St. Albert Saintes

(Council Bluffs) -- A young and inexperienced lineup did not prevent the St. Albert girls soccer team from starting the season off in dominant fashion.

The Saintes opened the season on Monday with an 8-1 win over Creston. Their opening-game dominance surprised many, including their coach, Chris Hughes.

"It was the first time in years that I've been really nervous going into the game," Hughes said. "Everybody has so many unknowns right now. They came out and did well, and improved as the game went along. It felt kinda good."

Hughes' nervousness was likely justified. St. Albert's roster consists of 13 freshmen and five sophomores.

"We are so young," Hughes said. "We only have four girls out of 22 that have played high school soccer before. We have a lot of growth in front of us."

While St. Albert does not have many experienced pieces in their lineup, they do bode one of the top girls soccer players in KMAland -- Drake commit Makenna Shepard.

Shepard scored five goals in the Saintes' season-opening victory

"We just gave it to Makenna and tried to make it easy," Hughes said. "We led her lead the team."

The Saintes will lean heavily on Shepard as they figure themselves out.

"It's amazing how great of a team player she is," Hughes said. "She felt selfish that she had five goals. Realistically, she could have had five in 20 minutes, but she did everything in her power to get other girls involved."

Ella Klusman scored twice and had two assists. Mallory Daley scored their other goal.

During their 2019 state tournament run, the Saintes relied on clutch goalkeeping from Veronica Svajgl. However, Svajgl has since graduated. The Saintes relied on goalkeeping by committee in their first game with Mia Allmon, Sophie Sheffield and Missy Evezic seeing minutes in the box. The trio combined for five saves, led by three from Evezic.

"We started the preseason with one keeper," Hughes said. "By the second day of practice, we had three girls. They are doing an excellent job. We give them time every day and try to improve all three."

Coach Hughes is optimistic that his youthful lineup will continue to progress as the season goes on.

"I think we have the potential for good things to happen," he said. "How much we grow over the next four to six weeks is gonna be big. I can see the confidence starting to come. The more it comes, the more I see us starting to gel together."

St. Albert returns to action this weekend with a two-day swing against Underwood (Friday) and Sioux City North (Saturday).

"We want to get better every game," Hughes said. "While you want to get better, you also want the dub every time."

Hughes made his comment on Thursday's sports feature, which can be heard below.

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