HERMISTON - Returning six starters from last year's 6-7-1 team, third-year coach John Larson is optimistic about the chances of his Hermiston Bulldogs girls soccer squad in the Intermountain Conference this season.

"The IMC schools will be the closest, talent-wise, as we've seen in a long time," Larson said. "We had a lot of momentum coming off last season. This year we'll have a pretty balanced attack."

Despite losing three players to graduation who garnered all-IMC honors last year, the Bulldogs return second team all-IMC forward senior Cynthia Perez and honorable mention midfielder junior Anne Barnett.

Kylie Cody, a junior forward who tied with Perez for the Bulldogs scoring title last year, and senior midfielder Amanda Sivey are returning starters. Also returning this year will be defenders Helen Hodney and Ashley Taylor.

"We have two defenders back and we added a few as well," Larson said. "Katy Winters and Lindsey Downy are back from last year also."

Larson thinks that the Central Oregon schools will be tough once again in the IMC, but has high hopes for his team.

"We finished strong last year and hope to carry that over," Larson said.

The Bulldogs open their season Sept. 7, hosting Southridge from Kennewick, Wash.

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