Paiven Knoot

Oskaloosa's Paiven Knoot (left) battles for the ball.

OSKALOOSA — Jodi Steinlage enters her sixth season leading the Oskaloosa girls soccer team (35-33 career record). After seeing COVID-19 wipe out the season for what would’ve been three impactful seniors, she will now lead a small group of 12 girls who will get a lot of playing time with the Indians returning to the pitch.

“Our weakness and strength are the same as we are a very small team,” Steinlage said. “We only have 12 girls right now (always looking for more), so the girls will be playing a lot! They understand how hard they are going to work and how good we have to be in shape as we will not have subs like other teams. However, the smallness of our team has allowed them to really bond as a team and are amazing in picking each other up and really supporting each other.”

Oskaloosa has four seniors returning that will be heavily leaned on in Lindy Slocum, Paiven Knoot, Attie Teeter and Teale Pose. Fellow senior Emily Simon also returns after missing her sophomore season due to injury.

Slocum gives Oskaloosa some offensive punch as she finished second on the 2019 team with six goals and two assists. Knoot and Teeter both saw significant time on the back line and will be leaders defensively.

“This group is an amazing group and already showing a lot of leadership during our first two weeks,” Steinlage said. “Lindy and Emily look to anchor the offense in the middle with Teale being up top and Attie and Paiven look to be our defensive anchors.”

Juniors Emma Basham and Kyrsten Dewees also return to the mix with both seeing varsity time as freshmen two years ago.

Basham played a utility role on that team but figures to settle into a defensive role this season. Dewees was the Indians’ keeper in 2019 as she will look to build off of her 73% save percentage as she returns to net.

Oskaloosa also welcomes a handful of sophomores in Audrey Cheny, Lauren Tarbell, Callie Lindgren and Reanne Elliot. Steinlage has liked what she’s seen from those four as they will get their first taste of varsity soccer.

The Indians were 8-7 (2-4 LHC) in 2019 as they will get two home games to start their season before embarking on a tough five-game road trip. They will finish out with five of their last eight at home.

“We are looking for small wins each game and know that with our size, it will be an uphill battle,” Steinlage said. “We play in one of the toughest conferences in the state, but are looking forward to going out and competing with each team we play every day.”

Colin Peters can be reached at 641-672-2581, by email at cpeters@oskyherald.com or on Twitter @ColinPetersOH.

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