Katelyn Whitrock, left, kicks the ball as Riley Neper applies pressure during practice.
Katelyn Whitrock, left, kicks the ball as Riley Neper applies pressure during practice.

   The Ripon High School girls’ soccer team opens its season Thursday with a home game against Wautoma with its usual uncertainty because of holes to fill due to players who have moved on.

   The biggest question marks are in the defense, especially in goal.

   Juniors Karissa Niederkorn and Larryn Smerling are the favorites to start in goal, but the team is trying several players out in the position to see who can make the quickest progress in learning enough to step in.

   Junior Katelyn Whitrock will anchor the center of the defense again this year, but Ripon head coach Dana Scott is not yet sure who she will partner with her.

   Sophomore Emma Azinger is getting an extended look in practice, and Smerling and Niederkorn are getting chances as well when not in goal. Senior Kate Hopfensperger should add experience as a wide defender on one side, and fellow senior Nicole Magin was beginning to get playing time in that position last year.

   Seniors Sarah Rodman and Emily Goyette will form the core of a central midfield threesome with juniors Sophie Aither and Emily Rigden providing experience in the wide midfield roles, although Rigden has also played in the defense.

   Sophomore Liz Stanfield also could play as a wide midfielder, but is likely to start the season in a central attacker role.

   Senior Melanie Flasch and junior Riley Neper are the early favorites to rotate into the central midfield with Rodman and Goyette.

Read the full story, which includes information on the Tigers' hopes for the season, as well as some early scheduling conflicts, in the March 30, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.