After a very successful 2016 season featuring a trip to their fourth straight MAC Commonwealth title game, the Stevenson Mustangs are poised for another breakout season and have set the bar high for this year.
The team had noteworthy talent last year, including MAC Commonwealth First Team selection and ECAC Division III All-Star, Carli Bafford, who has graduated. The team returns key players including seniors Brady Heher and captain Mackenzie Reese.
The Mustang coaching staff believes they recruited the right “pieces” this past summer to fill their open spots and possibly be even more productive this season.
“I think we had a great preseason and the girls worked extra hard, so, hopefully, all the hard works pays off and we can bring a championship to Stevenson,” said Reese, who started five games for the Mustangs in 2016 before a season-ending injury sidelined her.
These returning starters are going to be important to the Mustangs since they will be called upon to provide leadership to the many new players. They said this year’s team is one of the more “coachable teams,” and the team veterans and coaches think they will adopt their philosophies much better this season.
The Mustangs are already further ahead than most teams this spring, incorporating team defensive schemes and offensive sets into their practices. Another key piece is their training in the weight room and their intense conditioning on the field. The team set up a tough schedule every week since the fall, including team-based exercises that not only are physically challenging, but also help develop chemistry within the team.
The Mustangs plan to be the hardest-working team both on and off the field, especially in the classroom. Head coach Kathy Railey has instilled this into all her players.
“It’s a very young team, but a very exciting team,” she said. “They have not found their identity yet, so it will take a couple of games for them to do so.”
The Mustangs were voted to finish second in their conference’s preseason poll and are poised to make a strong run in May. The 2017 season home opener for the Mustangs is Saturday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. against Gettysburg.