GODFREY — L&C’s Tim Rooney considers himself one of the more fortunate college coaches when it comes to getting in ahead of the COVID-19 recruiting deadline.
And while he had most of his open roster positions locked up before the pandemic struck in late winter, Rooney still has a pair of spots remaining.
“I feel good about getting most of our recruits in before the ban on off-campus recruiting,” Rooney said. “We are still looking at a couple of players, but we have a really good group already.”
L&C, a two-time national champion and perennial national power, is faced with replacing last year’s national player of the year, Boitumelo Rabale, who scored 57 goals and had 33 assists. The Blazers will also play a new-look schedule as well as NJCAA classification changes that leave the Trailblazers as the only NJCAA Division I soccer school in the St. Louis area.
“I don’t think anybody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Rooney said. “But I’m really happy with the girls we have so far and we’re still looking for a couple more.
“We might have to have two or three players combine to replace (Rabale’s) 57 goals.”
Overall last season, the Trailblazers outscored their opponents 140-20 in going 20-4.
L&C, which tied for third place at last year’s NJCAA Division I National Tournament with Eastern Florida State, returns seven sophomores, including Candice Marziani from Australia, who scored 31 goals and added 12 assists on her own last year. She had to miss the national tournament, however, because of a bout with mononucleosis.
Not only did the Trailblazers lose Rabale’s truckload of goals and assists, they saw three defensive stalwarts move on as well. Gone are CM grad Cassie Hall, Edwardsville grad Jocelyn Wagner and Alton High grad Sydney Schmidt.
“Those three were rock solid on defense,” Rooney said. “They’ll be tough to replace, but that’s the nature of it when you’re a junior college. You lose about half your team every year.”
Other returning players include goalie Sabrina Burns (Southwestern), midfielder/defender Jenna Robinson (Civic Memorial), midfielder Chelsea Riden (Triad), midfielder Kara Crutchley (WAR-WR) and defender/midfielder Carolynn Smith (Chatham Glenwood).
“It’s a good core,” Rooney said, “and we were able to sign some pretty good players to go with them.”
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