The Oregon girls soccer team is heading to state with a big target on their backs.
"When you had such success, like we did last year going undefeated, everyone wants you," says head coach Julie Grutzner. "Everyone wants to beat you and say that they beat the defending state champs."
The Panthers will begin defense of their Division 2 state title on Friday at noon against Pulaski in the semifinals. Oregon integrated a lot of new pieces this year. However, they do return much of their core from last year's team, including seniors Makenna Fanning and Jen Brien. Those two have combined for 35 goals this season.
"We had eight returning starters that won state last year," says Grutzner. "So, when you have that experience, you definitely want to make it back to state."
They succeeded in doing that. Now. comes the next step. The state field is loaded with talent. Still, the Panthers believe they can add to their legacy with a second straight state championship.
"Last year, we were the first girls team from Oregon to even go to state in our school's history," says junior goalkeeper Abby Breitbach. "I think it would be really cool if we could do it two times in a row."