QUINCY -- Scoring goals doesn't figure to be a problem for this year's Quincy Notre Dame girls soccer team.
How well the Lady Raiders stop them likely will determine how far they go in the postseason.
The top five scorers return from last year's team that posted a 15-5-3 record and lost 5-0 to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the Class 1A sectional.
The offensive depth allows QND coach Mark Longo (481-89-67 entering his 28th year) to move senior Lucy Stella from forward to a marking back.
She will try to fortify a defense that lost four four-year varsity players -- sweeper Riley Hummert, goalkeeper Julie Rabe and midfielders Ericka Obert and Sarah Arnold -- along with defenders Audrea Fitch and Kerrigan McDonald.
"We lost some big defenders," Stella said. "So this summer, I went up to (Longo) and said, ‘Hey, I'm really open to playing defense this year.'"
Junior Molly Penn will anchor the defense, which also will see sophomore Madison K. Meyer, freshmen Taylor Keck and Maddie Dickerman, and seniors Hannah Weiman and Bre Kurk get their chances to earn a spot in front of goalkeeper Delaney Walker.
Walker, a sophomore, allowed seven goals in 10 games last year when Rabe was gone on a school trip and also missed time because of a concussion.
Junior Olivia Dreyer (13 goals, 3 assists) returns at one of the two center midfield positions, and Longo hopes freshmen Maddie Peters and Morgan Evans can fit in there as well, allowing Hannah Peters to play forward. Hannah Peters had a team-high 14 goals and 13 assists last season.
If Longo can get the defense squared away and find a good rotation at center midfield, he believes he has plenty of offensive firepower to make the Lady Raiders a state tournament contender.
"The first practice, Longo said he thought we had the potential to get to state," Stella said. "That's our goal. We can be very good if we play together."
Junior Beth Eversman (8 goals, 5 assists), sophomore Erin Barnes (8 goals, 4 assists) and sophomore Madison L. Meyer (8 goals, 3 assists) all will get time at forward in QND's 3-4-3 alignment, as will freshman Isabella Anderson.
However, it's the return of McKenzie Foley that has this team excited.
Older sisters Shannon and Cassidy both finished their careers at QND with more than 100 goals each, and McKenzie scored 23 goals as a freshman. However, knee injuries suffered during basketball season as a sophomore and as a junior prevented her from playing soccer. She didn't play basketball this winter so she could play soccer.
"She's just as strong as she was her freshman year," Dreyer said. "Kenzie coming back gives us a lot up top."
Longo says Foley has looked good so far.
"Fitness-wise, she's fine. Her skills, we'll find out," he said.
"She looks good in the scrimmages and drills, but it's a whole different game when you're out against a team.
"After three knee surgeries, you'll lose a little speed, but she just reads the game so well."
Stella and Dreyer both admit they cringe every time Foley is knocked to the ground during practice.
"When she falls hard, it gets nerve wracking," Dreyer said.
"I get nervous, but she loves the game, and she's going to go out there and play," Stella said. "I mean, she's a Foley."
The Lady Raiders will play four of their first five games at home, then make 11 road trips in their next 14 games before closing with their own showcase on May 5-6.
The lineup will be loaded with freshmen and sophomores, but Longo says he expects his team to be a tough out when the postseason arrives.
"I told the parents that we'll be like Willie Nelson this year ... ‘On the Road Again,'" Longo said. "But I think we have the potential to be pretty good."
"(Going to state) is our No. 1 goal," Dreyer said. "It's what we're playing for."
March 16 Williamsville 4:30 p.m.
March 18 at Macomb 11 a.m.
March 24 Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias 5 p.m.
March 28 QHS 5:30 p.m.
March 31 Canton (Mo.) 5 p.m.
April 1 at St. Louis Showcase 10:30 a.m.
April 1 at St. Louis Showcase 3 p.m.
April 4 at Hannibal (Mo.) 5 p.m.
April 8 Belleville Althoff 4:30 p.m.
April 10 at Canton (Mo.) 5 p.m.
April 12 at Father Tolton (Mo.) 5 p.m.
April 13 at Riverton 4:30 p.m.
April 17 Beardstown 4:30 p.m.
April 20-22 at Sacred Heart-Griffin Tournament TBA
April 28-29 at Burlington (Iowa) Tournament TBA
May 1 at QHS 4:30 p.m.
May 3 at Jacksonville 4:30 p.m.
May 5-6 QND Showcase TBA