EMPORIA, KS. (KSNT)- Emporia State soccer made a trip to the Central Regional Championship for the first time in program history in 2022.

The Hornets are looking to build off that success, but they won’t be living in the past.

“[We] brought in eight freshmen that are competing so they could very well step into the mix as well,” ESU head women’s soccer coach Bryan Sailer said. “It’s just a different chemistry every year. Last year we had to develop that chemistry over time. It doesn’t just happen over night. Every team is different you got to try to develop that chemistry over time and we’ll just continue to roll.”

The group is made up of several key returners, including the program’s all-time leading goal scorer in Mackenzie Dimarco. Plus, one incoming transfer in addition to the eight freshmen.

Hadlie Lowe comes to ESU after scoring 20 goals last season at Hutchinson Community College.

“It’s really scary to come into a team like that because they obviously hold themselves to high standards and they obviously meet those standards,” Lowe said. “And you have to find where you fit into that situation, how you can contribute and make it better.”

Progress is the goal. While they don’t want to dwell in last year’s success, the team is hoping to build from it.

“That’s our goal every year is to be better than the team before. And we have that, not necessarily pressure, but I think we all hold ourselves to a higher standard and we truly are competitive,” ESU senior defender Joanie Westcoat said. “And we truly want to be our best group, our best selves.”

ESU women’s soccer opens its season on Thursday, Aug. 31 at Southwestern Oklahoma State.