Platte County could be in the unique position to have the same number of players returning from injury as they lost from a year ago.
Minus just three starters from a 15-7 team that reached the Class 3 playoffs, the Pirates have every reason to believe this year can be better — assuming they can replace Brooke Zenner’s offense. The all-state forward was just one of two senior starters a year ago, tying for the team lead in goals with a team-high 10 assists.
Haley Valentine, a defender, was the only other senior starter, while junior midfielder Katana Audas will not be back. However, senior defender Amanda Sullivan and juniors Brittany Alvarado (defender) and Bailey Bologna (midfielder) all return for the Pirates after missing all of 2016 with injuries.
Bologna was an All-Suburban Conference Blue Division performer as a freshman, while Sullivan was the league’s defender of the year as a sophomore.
“I think that we were all questioning last season because we lost so many of our crucial players, but it’s nice to have them back,” said Platte County senior Calle Boe, who moved from midfield to defense last year after the injury to Sullivan.
Boe, Sullivan, Alvarado and sophomores Katlyn Evans and Madeline Donelli give Platte County’s backline plenty of experience and options to move players into the midfield. Faith Burtchell, a junior, will contribute at goalkeeper for a third straight year and could again split time, this year with freshman Jaylee Wiedmer with junior Kaylyn Hathaway shifting to offense.
Kianna Castro (three goals, three assists) and Hanna Hall (five goals, eight assists) will look to add offense along with Balagna to help make up for Zenner’s loss.
Destinee Smith, a physical junior forward, scored 24 goals to go with four assists last season and should be the main target up front. She scored twice in the Pirates’ Class 3 District 16 championship game win against Smithville, which had beaten them five straight years in district title games.
Platte County’s season ended with a loss to Grain Valley in sectionals.
“I think that we feel we have to step it up this year,” Boe said. “We have an amazing team this year, if we can just put it back together.”
Boe and Castro will be the lone returning players to receive first team honors on the All-Blue Division team after Platte County finished second behind Kearney a year ago. The Pirates lost three of their first five games, including the first of two to Kearney, but won six straight at the end ahead of the loss to Grain Valley.