GREEN TWP. – There’s no hiding the potential of the Oak Hills High School girls soccer team this season.
With seven Division I college commits and only one conference loss over the past two seasons resulting in back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Greater Miami Conference behind two-time state runner up, Mason, now is the time for the Highlanders.
“I think we can have a really good season, a really special season,” coach Chuck Laumann said after his girls wrapped up practice Aug. 13. “Our first goal, obviously, is to knock Mason off the perch in the GMC. … If we stay healthy, everybody understands their roles, we get a couple people we aren’t expecting to step up and have one of those years that you’re not expecting out of them, like every team needs, I think we can have a special season.”
Entering its 31st season of competition, the girls soccer program is just one win away from No. 300 in school history, but is still in search of its first-ever district championship. And while Laumann admits getting out of the Southwest District in girls soccer may be the toughest thing to do in all of high school sports, that isn’t an excuse for his team not making the leap to the next level.
“We’ve work hard over the last 10, 15 years to get this program to where it is now and it’s time for us to be able to take the next step,” the coach said. “We’ve been very close the last four, five, six years to take that next step and we just seem to get ourselves in a game where we don’t match up or some calls go against us or a break goes against us or a major injury, like last year with Bayley (Feist), happens to us, but it’s just going to be a matter of who steps up when we need them to step up.”
And that is a key for Laumann. While names like Feist, Katie Murray and Sydney Kilgore ring familiar with most in the high school and club soccer world, Laumann believes it’s names like Haley Cox, Brianna Lunsford, Molly Arnold, Taylor Fronk Gretchen Smith, Amanda Meyer, Rachel Royer and Megan Sheridan that can make this team reach its full potential.
“We know what we got, we know what everybody brings to the table, so now it’s going to be a matter of where we can fit them in to provide us with the best opportunity to win,” Laumann said, who has 229 career wins on the pitch over his 23 years with Oak Hills. “I know we have some very talented players on this team who are going to play at the next level, but it’s the other players around them who will be the important people.”
One player Laumann knows is key to his team’s success is senior goalkeeper Emily Lohman. The Northern Kentucky University commit posted nine shutouts last season while recording 95 saves en route to the fifth best save percentage in the conference by keepers who appeared in at least 14 games.
“She’s got the experience, she’s big, she’s tall, she’s smart and she’s aggressive,” Laumann said of his keeper. “Unlike the guys’ game where you can get away with an athlete in net, in the girls’ game you have to have a keeper. If you have a girl who can cover the top bar, that’s a defender in itself, and she can cover the top bar.”