With 14 letter winners returning from the 2015 team that was district and league champions, the Swanton Bulldogs appear well positioned to defend their crowns.
Among the returnees is senior Taylor Dohm, who was first team All-NWOAL last season. Haley Nelson, a second team all-league honoree returns for her junior season, as do Amber Torres, and Ally Hendricks, who were honorable-mention all-league.
Despite the large amount of returnees, the Bulldogs, who were 14-4 a year ago, will be relatively young with only two seniors on the roster. Kaitlyn Anderson and Dohm are the senior members.
Coach Jim Dickman feels that youth could be a weakness of the team.
However, the defense and goalie are back for the Dogs, which should be a strength, according to Dickman, who was NWOAL Coach of the Year in 2015.
Torres returns in the net after registering 10 shutouts last season as a sophomore. Swanton was stingy most of the 2015 season, giving up more than one goal just three times the entire season, including the tournament.
On offense, sophomore Bridget Harlett looks to be among the leaders following a solid freshman campaign. Other key returnees, according to the coach, are Kyleigh Koback, Kirsten Truckor, Julia Hightower, and Kendra Keefer.
Overall, Dickman said that Swanton “will be strong and hard to keep up with.” He feels they should be in the running for a repeat league championship.
Last season, Archbold gave the Bulldogs their stiffest challenge, as Swanton defeated them 1-0 in league play and then in a shootout in the district championship game. The Streaks will be one of the favorites to unseat Swanton this year.
The Bulldogs open the season today at Van Buren. Their home opener is Monday, Aug. 22 and the league opener is Thursday, Aug. 25 at Evergreen, which is fielding a varsity program for the first time.
Drew Stambaugh can be reached at 419-335-2010