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Palmyra girls soccer preview


Coach: Alanna Dunkle, first season

Last year's record: 11-7

Key returners: Hannah Bowman, Sr., D; Mara Bowman, Sr., MF; Eden Haldenman, Jr., D/MF; Jannelle Hibshman, Jr., MF; Nikki Bowman, Jr., MF; Tori Norton, Jr., D; Megan Early, Jr., D; Ashton Byrd, So., MF.

Promising newcomers: Bailey Corrigan, Fr., GK; Marielle Hahn, Fr., F; Nyah Combs, Fr., F; Kayleigh Hogg, Fr., MF.

Outlook: Rare is the 11-win team that undergoes a complete makeover. Yet here stand the Cougars, with a new coaching staff, philosophy and a more than a dozen players gone from their sideline.

Armed with a surplus of midfielders and only three seniors, Palmyra embarks on a new era, where first-time head coach Alanna Dunkle insists she's in for the long haul. Dunkle, a Lower Dauphin grad and former striker at Liberty University, says the Cougars will employ "an attacking-minded back four." That defense will be led by Hannah Bowman, a 2015 Mid Penn Keystone all-star.

Meanwhile, Mara Bowman, another division all-star who tallied 27 points last season, is set to roam the middle alongside a talented junior class. Though they won't be packing the field like certain opponents. Instead, much like the back line behind them, these Cougar mids will be aiming to fire balls regularly up front and create chances.

"We have a lot of speed and a lot of endurance," Dunkle said. "So we're always throwing everything up front."

As much work as has already been put in between whistle blows, these Cougar upperclassmen have hardly stopped there, expanding their leadership to welcome a budding freshmen group.

"I'm so excited about this leadership," Dunkle said. "After losing so many seniors and only having three now, they and the junior class have really stepped into those roles ... freshmen aren't treated like stereotypical freshmen. Our leaders are huge into leadership service."