• Kira Horvath / Staff Photographer

    Senior Hannah Isenhart returns to lead Dawson's quest for a state championship.

  • Kira Horvath / Staff Photographer

    Dawson's Cameron Epstein, left, returns to help lead the Mustangs in their search for a state title.



LAFAYETTE — Sports can be so fickle sometimes.

Just ask the Dawson girls soccer program.

They were cruising through their season last year, that included an impressive 3-2 win at defending champion Vail Mountain late in the season to head to the playoffs on a high.

Less than three weeks later, the Mustangs would rematch with the champs. The result? A 7-0 humiliation at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the 2A title game.

It’s something that Dawson coach John Siegrist, in his years on the bench for both high school and club ball, has been on both sides of.

“Many many times,” he said. “With high school you have this influx and some kids come back and others decide not to play.

“For me what I’ve noticed is that its a fresh start every year.”

And with that click of the reset button comes a new set of expectations for a Mustangs program that could and should be among the favorites — Vail Mountain moved up to Class 3A — to get back to their third straight title game.

Dawson returns five of their starting 11 from last season, including seniors Hannah Isenhart and Cassidy Donohue.

But what has the Mustangs most excited about their prospects for the upcoming season is the infusion of freshman. Siegrist is confident enough in his ninth-graders that upwards of six of them could be starting.

“It’s always hard to tell and sometimes they get a little wide-eyed about being put in that role,” said Siegrist, whose preseason No. 1 team in the CHSAANow.com poll opens the season against Denver Prep League teams John F. Kennedy and Denver West. “This is really a young group, but it looks like this group is going to provide us with some balance across the field.”

Said Isenhart, who scored 39 goals and had 18 assists last season in earning 2A all-state honors: “Last year we had some team drama that found its way on to the field when we were playing. It’s great to have this who new group of freshmen just to bring in that new energy.”

In addition to the six freshmen — Alexandra Dunbar, Ella Rogers, Estasia McGlothlin, Kaitlyn Day, Madison Day and Tina Aieta — Dawson will also have two sophomore returnees in Cameron Epstein (6 goals last season) and goalie Kate Gallop as regulars.

The Mustangs didn’t set any specific goals in terms of post-season accomplishments, but Isenhart pointed to two other things that will ultimately fuel their drive to a potential title.

“The first thing is to be the best person we can be both on and off the field, working as hard as we can every single game,” she said. “Off the field, it’s a matter of being a good person, seeing what we can do to help and creating a good environment for everyone.

“If we do that, we are hoping to win a state title.”

With a watered down 26-eam Class 2A field, all eyes will be on Dawson. The Mustangs primary competition for the title will come from Colorado Springs foes Evangelical Christian and Fountain Valley and closer to home, Front Range Christian. The Falcons beat Dawson 3-2 last season and the two will fight for the top spot out of Region 5.

Siegrist is hoping that a schedule that includes some of 3A’s finest teams — The Academy and Liberty Common among others — will help offset the matches that won’t provide much of a challenge along the way.

“It is difficult to play that team that is not technically or tactically very good and then the next game is against a team that is very strong tactically,” Siegrist said. “It’s hard for all teams that, but that is the nature of 2A and making sure your schedule is right.”

Jon Yunt: yuntj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JonEYunt