Stability might be the best thing going for Wilde Lake's hockey team.
For the first time in four years, the Wildecats do not have a new coach. Not only does Karen Doerrler return for her second season, she brings back 10 starters.
Although they made it to the first round of the Class 1A regional playoffs, the Wildecats struggled last season. They posted a 2-10 finish, winning just one game against Howard County opponents, and ended up last in the league.
A lack of experience hurt the offense as the Wildecats managed just 10 goals. This season, Doerrler hopes to see more output from the attack, taking some pressure off the defense.
"This year, they have a year of team experience," said Doerrler. "Skillwise, they have developed. A number of them went to camp, and they have improved quite a bit."
Senior Molly Norton leads the returnees to the line, bringing back five of the Wildecats' goals. The rest of the scoring was spread around through the line and the midfield.
Seniors Karen Sutton, Maggie Barker and Kristin Thompson all come back to the line although Thompson sat out part of last season with an injury. Junior Anna Levy moves up from JV to add depth.
An equally experienced midfield returns. Senior links Kim Driessen and Kelly Kilgus come back to start. Sophomore Alex Roe should see action after moving up from JV.
Most of the defense is back with Michelle McCone and Toby Treem starting at halfback, junior Melissa Anderson at sweeper and senior Jayme Kantor in the cage. Rachel Sola, the only newcomer to the starting lineup, gets the nod at halfback.
Sophomore Leah Cato also should see action on defense while junior Krista Entrop will back up Kantor.
The first goal for the Wildecats is to improve their record, said Doerrler. After that, they would like to make the regional playoffs again although this year that will be more difficult. With their region growing from five teams to eight, the Wildecats almost certainly won't claim a playoff berth with just two wins.
"We would like to at least make it to the second game [of the regional playoffs]," said Doerrler. "Last year, we were still learning to play together. By the end of the season, we had it, and we're starting off where we left off last season."