BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Carrie Burken’s first season as Fort Madison’s girls soccer head coach was an education for her, and her players.
There is still a bit of a learning curve to start this season, considering the roster turnover and the number of new players.
“I think with so many new players out, it’s going to be figuring out who works well together,” said Burken, whose team opened the season on Monday at home against Notre Dame.
It wasn’t just Burken’s first season last year, it was also the first season of the co-op between Fort Madison and Holy Trinity.
The Bloodhounds went 8-7 last season, including the program’s first postseason win. Burken wanted to build on that, so she spent the offseason trying to add to her roster.
“A lot of the Fort Madison girls I’ve had in class — they know me, they know my personality,” said Burken, who teaches social studies at Fort Madison High School. “With the Holy Trinity girls, I would see them at volleyball games, basketball games, so I’d always talk to them, try to get to know them. I wanted them to come out, and be a part of this.”
Seven HTC players are on the roster.
“We have a lot of programs that co-op, so I’m glad that we were able to get some more players from Holy Trinity,” Burken said. “I think it’s great for both schools, and great for the community.”
Burken learned a lot about herself as well.
“I learned that there’s a lot more to being a head coach than an assistant coach,” she said. “I think I learned a lot about knowing your players — how they work together, knowing when to push and when to encourage.”
There is a lot of offense to replace from last season. Seniors Claire Pothitakis, Brandy Walker and Taylor Crabtree combined to score 48 of the Bloodhounds’ 56 goals.
Last season was about mixing and matching lineups at the start of the season, and Burken envisions that early this season.
“The season is going to be a little bit of a hodgepodge,” Burken said. “Who is comfortable where, who can play multiple positions? But I think that was the same way as last year.”
Perhaps the biggest win of last season was the 3-2 victory over Burlington in the first round of the postseason.
“I think that was really big for the girls to see we could go farther, just because we never had,” Burken said.
The learning process begins again for the Bloodhounds. There are just four seniors on the roster, meaning this group could be together for a while.
“That’s the exciting thing for me, to get to know them and see what they can do,” Burken said.