The Rolla Bulldogs soccer team is ready to take the pitch this season after their 16-win district championship campaign last year.

The Rolla Bulldogs soccer team is ready to take the pitch this season after their 16-win district championship campaign last year.

The Bulldogs kickers had an outstanding season with their 16-10-1 record where they won a Class 3 district championship before falling to a strong Glendale team 2-0 in the playoffs.

But it was still the third consecutive district title for the team in as many years. Rolla finished Ozark Conference play 7-2 with a 1-0 loss to the eventual district champion and an overtime loss to Kickapoo.

Howard has been a staple at Rolla for many years. He has a combined coaching record of 876-380-74 as a Bulldog with 459 wins in the boys' program and 417 with the girls.

"We had a solid season. This group of nine seniors have a chance to go through high school having won a district title all four seasons," Howard said looking ahead to 2019.

The Bulldogs lost two key players from last year in Webster University bound forward Jarett Gabriele and Rhys Proffitt, who will be playing at Westminster this season. Proffitt was an All-State athlete.

The Bulldogs have a key number of players returning from last season.

Senior Gabe Stanislawski is a returning All-State selection that had 12 goals and 11 assists for the team. Senior Evan Moore is also returning after he scored 17 goals last season and assisted five of them. Senior Mohammad Alamaldien score seven times and was a key leader in assists with his 18 over the 2018 season. Senior Joel Schott also returns after scoring four goals and assisting in another three last year.

The juniors this year that will bring a spark to the program are Zach Pendleton who scored two goals, and Lane Mabe who added three more goals during the year. Both had an assist last season also.

“We have nine seniors returning with a solid junior class under them. The key will be to get some consistent play in goal," Howard said of the new Bulldog club. "Last year Erique Cezar and Josiah Homan (both seniors) split time in goal, and gave up some soft goals in key moments. That needs to get better. We have a good group that will be able to attack with some diversity and speed as long as we can stay healthy.”

Howard is also looking for some defensive newcomers to make a difference as well.

“Defensively we return three key players so we are looking for three players to step up from either the junior varsity team or players who came off the bench and gave us minutes last year," he stated. "If we can find those three players we have a chance to be a decent team.”

The Bulldogs first home game will be against Jefferson City Helias at Rolla High School on September 5. Then they will then compete in the Pacific Tournament in Franklin County. The Bulldogs will return to Rolla on September 17 where they will face the Springfield Parkview Vikings.

Another key game for Rolla will be a home game against the Glendale Falcons on September 30 in a rematch from last season's district championship clash. The final regular season game against Kickapoo on October 23 is one that could help decide the Ozark Conference winner.