SIDNEY — The Sidney Yellow Jackets have a new league. The offense could have a new look. But the goals remain the same.
Sidney (12-5-0 last season) moves into the Miami Valley League after finished third in the GWOC American North last season at 8-2-0. The Yellow Jackets are expected to be MVL Valley Division frontrunners along with Fairborn.
Back for Sidney is a strong defense and an offense with potential. Gone for Sidney are Elaine Wiesenmayer and Macie Ivey. Wiesenmayer was one of the program’s best forwards in program history, recording 30 goals and 18 assists last season. Ivey was one of the program’s best defenders. Replacing them will be a team effort.
Seniors co-captains Katelyn Burden and Kyah Vondenhuevel and junior Katie Atwood return at defender with junior Makayla Hurey at goalkeeper. The defense allowed 16 goals last season and posted eight shutouts. The addition of freshman Lainie Fair has Sidney coach Kevin Veroneau excited about a similar effort.
“We’re hoping with Lainie the defense will basically be as good as last year, if they play to their potential and hopefully a little better,” Veroneau said. “We have to try and fill those gaps. It’s a little more helpful in the back with those four players returning. That is a positive to have so many experienced defenders returning.”
The offense brings potential as well. But the loss of Wiesenmayer’s goals is a concern. Veroneau said the Yellow Jackets could bring offensive pressure with three forwards this season instead of two like past seasons.
“We talked this summer about trying to get every player from the midfielders to the forwards to increase what they were able to do last year,” Veroneau said.
Junior Khia McMillen returns with her 28 assists, the most in Sidney High School history. Junior MaKayla Dillinger and freshman Lexee Brewer are among those expected to contribute up top.
“The mindset is if we can get (Dillinger and Brewer) to produce 10 to 15 goals, and every other player to step up with a few more goals then we can replace the goals we lost with Elaine,” Veroneau said. “On the offensive side there’s experience. We have to start looking at playing a little differently. Instead of having two forwards up there we might have three. That’s where our focus is.”
Along with the new league comes a new schedule. Gone are Division I state powers Beavercreek and Centerville in nonconference games, though Springboro remains. Also, Bellefontaine and Trotwood-Madison have been replaced with Kettering Alter and Tecumseh.
Sidney’s MVL Division includes Fairborn, Stebbins, West Carrollton and Xenia. The Yellow Jackets will also face MVL Miami Division foes Piqua, Troy, Tippecanoe, Vandalia-Butler and Greenville.
“Our goal is to definitely win the division and compete for the (overall) league title,” Veroneau said. “By not having to play the Beavercreek’s the Centerville’s, unless we want to, we don’t have schools with over 1,000 kids playing us with close to 400 kids. That’s a big gap. Now it’s a lot more competitive instead of it coming down to those big schools. … I definitely like the league.”
Thirteen players are on the varsity roster. Another 13 are on the junior varsity roster. Veroneau expects numbers to rise next season with an influx of players who have grown up playing club soccer.
The Yellow Jackets have three seniors with midfielder Megan Heckler and defenders Burden and Vondenhuevel. Soleil Drinnen would be the fourth but she’s unable to play this season. Drinnen is still part of the team as the videographer.
“If she could be on the field she would be. She wants to stay part of the group and the program,” Veroneau said.
The senior class has echoed that attitude.
“The seniors talked about stepping on the field together. Leaving the field together. I think that sums up this year’s team,” Veroneau said. “They’re going to have to rely on each other more.”