The Fort Osage girls soccer team had a breakthrough season in 2018 as it won its first conference championship since 2004.

However, the Indians lost to Blue Springs South 1-0 in the first round of districts.

This season, Fort Osage will try to exceed that success as it lost just four seniors from last year’s team.

“We’re excited. I think the girls coming back are very strong,” Fort Osage coach Michael Brown said. “Our two center midfielders will be the hardest to replace, but we will have a couple of freshmen there who will be strong.”

Up top, the Indians return two important pieces in senior Megan Lyon and sophomore Aliyah Ayala, who scored a school-record 41 goals and had 11 assists as she was named Co-Player of the Year in the Middle Seven.

“She’s back with a vengeance,” Brown said of Ayala. “She’s been scoring a lot of goals in practice. She’s getting even better at finishing. Hopefully this will be a very successful season for her.

“I think we are going to have a high-powered offense again.”

The offense may be strong but the midfield will see changes. Bailee Summers will lead that unit as a returning starter, while Sophia Smith, who was the Middle Seven Defensive Player of the Year in 2018, will move to the defensive midfield spot. Freshman Emma Le and Elayna Lamb are two talented newcomers who could contribute right away.

“We are young, but we are strong in the middle,” Summers said.

Added Brown: “Our freshmen in the middle are very skilled and very technical on the ball. For freshmen, they see the game very, very well. In the jamboree, they had a pair of assists between them.”

On the back line, senior Mya Sams will lead that unit as the center back. Freshman Morgan Watkins will also see time on defense. At goalkeeper, Fort Osage will have a new player at that position for the third year in a row. Brooklyn Hendrix and Kylee Gorget will battle it out for that spot.

“It’s looking pretty good,” Sams said of the back line. “We have a freshman back there and she’s looking pretty strong.”

With a solid mix of youth and experience, the Indians say they still should have good chemistry.

“A big strength for us is we all get along,” Smith said. “We all want to get better and we are all really hard workers. I think we can outwork a lot of teams.”

That’s one of the things the Indians will need to do to win a district title. This season, their district could be wide open with Blue Springs, Truman and William Chrisman joining them in District 14.

“I think we have a good chance in districts this year,” Summer said. “Hopefully we can make it farther this year.”

Added Brown: “Our district is wide open. I think the teams in our district are on equal playing ground. Last year, we had perennial powerhouses in our district like Lee’s Summit North and Blue Springs South. Our goal is to get into the district championship. From there, we’ll see what happens.”

• Ayala picked up where she left off last season in Friday’s season and Suburban Middle Seven opener, scoring six goals to lead the Indians to a 10-0 rout of host Ruskin.

Freshman Emma Le added a pair of goals and Summers and Sophia Calderon each added one for the Indians (1-0, 1-0 Middle Seven).