Mount Vernon’s Maddie Swingle (17) attempts to channel the ball for a score in front of Addi Jones (31) of New Palestine during the East Central Class 3A girls’ section championship game on Saturday, October 10, 2020. (Rob Baker / Daily Reporter)

HANCOCK COUNTY – The official start of high school girls soccer season is just over two weeks away and first practice less than seven days away, but it’s never too early to look ahead.

Student-athletes from across Hancock County have worked hard this summer, training with their respective club teams, and getting a little bit known while focusing on their immediate future and beyond.

As the days leading up to the opening night on August 14th are getting shorter, several questions are raised.

Will the Defending Champion of Class 3A Section Master Mt. Vernon Marauders recapture the Hoosier Heritage Conference this season? Can their solid core of returnees bring the Marauders back to the regional finals after finishing 16-3 overall and 6-1 in the HHC in 2020?

Can the 3A New Palestine Dragons make another run in the section finals after finishing 10-7 overall and 5-2 in the HHC for third place behind Mt. Vernon?

What can we expect from 3A Greenfield-Central and outstanding senior Kelsi McLaughlin after losing 7-9-1 and 4-3 for fourth place in the HHC last fall?

Time will ultimately answer all of these questions, but for now, here are some early forecast standouts that appear in no particular order this season and that will no doubt battle for national honors and more.

Shay Shipley, Mount Vernon

As the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference and All-Hancock County selection in 2020 and 2019, the new senior Shay Shipley took second place in goals scored for the Marauders last season with 17 in 19 games and six multi-goal -Services. She was also runner-up behind graduated senior Anna Isger (Western Kentucky) in assists with nine. The midfielder / striker also flourished in 2020-21 as a multi-athlete (girls’ basketball) together with her soccer club FC Pride. Shipley has scored 33 goals in her career and is a fierce competitor when it comes to halving the field or marking the top player of a particular opponent.

Mattie Isger, Mount Vernon

While Mattie Isger was just a freshman in 2020, last season he was an imminent offensive threat to Class 3A Section Master Mt. Vernon Marauders. In 17 games played, Isger was third with 14 goals scored. The midfielder / striker added seven assists and ended her first college season by receiving both All-HHC and All-County awards. She scored the top four goals of the season against HHC enemy New Castle on September 3, 2020, and Isger scored two of the Marauders’ four goals in their 4-1 regional semi-final win over Roncalli last October. Her game-winning goal against Hamilton Southeastern on September 17, 2020, in addition to her three multi-goal performances, could be a taste of what is to come for this rising star.

Maddie Swingle, Mount Vernon

There’s not much that incoming senior Maddie Swingle can’t do. A highlight for the Mt. Vernon girls ‘basketball and tennis teams, Swingle won a total of three section team titles in 2020-21, including the first since 2015 for the Marauders girls’ soccer team. The Cincinnati recruit’s real passion is soccer, however, and she made it official this summer by announcing her oral pledge last June. Last season, the Marauder sweeper scored five goals and one assist in 18 games, with one of her goals against Guerin Catholic during the Mt. Vernons narrow 3-2 defeat in the regional final. In her career, Swingle, an All-HHC and All-County Award winner, has scored 14 goals with seven in 2019-20.

Anna Lukas, New Palestine

Second year last season, New Palestine’s Anna Luker joined senior graduate Addie Halter (10 games played) with 11 goals in 17 games to lead the Dragons. Her 11 assists were unmatched among her teammates in New Palestine and at the end of the season she was rightly selected into both the All-HHC and All-County teams in 2020. Her 11 goals surpassed her freshman season of eight, while her assist totals also rose from nine in 2019-20. Their trajectory is rising and the Dragons will need the offensive if they want to make another run for a potential HHC team title or their first section crown in 3A. The last section championship of the programs took place in 2A in 2018.

Mrs. Potter, New Palestine

Much like her teammate Anna Luker, Maddy Potter from New Palestine was a game changer when she was on the field for her sophomore year in 2020. The team captain was an offensive force and a primary goal threat, despite being one of 12 on the squad in his sophomore year. Now, as a budding junior, Potter will again attract a lot of attention for the Dragons from head coach Erin Clark. In 2019-20, the Dragons finished 9-6-2 in Clark’s first season at their alma mater, and they were 10-7 in 2020-21. Potter was named to both the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference and All-Hancock County teams for a sophomore year, and she also received 2019-20 All-HHC awards. A likely third conference choice is out of the question.

Kelsi McLaughlin, Greenfield Central

A standout junior in 2020-21, Greenfield-Central’s Kelsi McLaughlin has rarely been without a shadowing defender around. With 22 goals scored and eight assists, McLaughlin, the 2019 All-Hancock County Player of the Year, was fatal in open space, and when she wasn’t assigned that, she created her own. In the off-season, she competes in two Indy Premier Leagues from Noblesville, and this summer her club team won the State Cup in addition to the Mid-America League title. McLaughlin was an automatic all-Hoosier Heritage Conference and All-County selection in 2020-21, and she is determined to continue her college career at Illinois State University. One obvious playmaker, McLaughlin, who scored 33 goals in 2019-20, is set to be one of the favorites again this fall if it isn’t for another Player of the Year award.