Ari Backlund.

Osceola soccer player Ari Backlund.


The Osceola Chieftain’s soccer team finished sixth in the tough Middle Border conference last year. Although wins were hard to come by for the Chieftains they were close in several games but could not get the big goal when needed to add more Ws to their record. Osceola had lost 11 of their 20 player roster due to graduation including Kayla Hoffman, Skye Federation, Katherine Jennings, Jennifer Armstrong, Mattea Johnson, Kathryn Fouks, Josie Carlson, Emily Hall, Mikayla Peper, Becky Ringlien and Ellie Ringlien. 

New head coach Jonathan Archibald was looking forward to working with his nine returnees from last season as well as a pretty impressive looking freshmen class. Although the season never officially started it appeared that the Osceola roster would have included 20-24 athletes this year.

“I think we would have done alright in the conference after plenty of the girls were attending soccer Sundays throughout the winter,” Archibald said. “If our freshmen class sticks with it we could be winning it in a few years.”

No doubt the 2020 season was going to be built around the two seniors on the roster, Emily Fox and Ari Backlund. Both players have seen plenty of varsity action throughout their Chieftain careers and they were prepared to give it their best during their final season. 

“I was looking forward to a new coach and a fresh start.” Backland said. “A possibility of more wins than any of my three previous seasons. We had a very strong group of girls, with a range of ability. I believe we were going to do quite well. I wanted us to do win, but most importantly, have fun. The freshmen girls are very talented and always willing to learn, which makes for a strong team dynamic and is exactly what we’re looking for. The rest of the team is (willing to learn) too, as a matter of fact, so we were in a good position for the 2020 season.” 

“I was really looking forward to soccer as it would be a new season with some returners, but also a lot of new players,” Fox added. “This soccer season was hopeful as we would return with a large team. We had a few girls that were joining with no experience, and we had a few girls that have played a lot of soccer. I was excited to see what we could build with some new players and a new coach.”

All the hopes for 2020 were dashed when the season was canceled due to Covid-19. We will never know how Fox and Backlund would have ended their high school soccer careers. The talented class of freshmen will never know if they could have contributed during their rookie seasons. The debut of Archibald as the girls’ coach will have to wait a year.

“I am saddened our seniors did not get to compete in a game they loved to play their last year of high school,” Archibald noted. “We are looking into every possibility for the girls to play yet this summer. If they really love to play they can continue to play in many different ways. I barely got to know Emily and Ari but I know they are both great people from the small amount of time I had to interact with them.”

“I was very disappointed when I heard the season was cancelled,” Fox added. “No athlete would like to hear that their senior season would not be played. I was most excited about seeing our potential unfold with many new assets to the team.”

“When my last season was cancelled, I was devastated,” Backlund summarized. “I was so excited to lead the team with my fellow senior and captain, Emily Fox, but we never got the chance. It helped that the actual season hadn’t started and we had only a couple of captains’ practices under our wing, but it was still a big disappointment. However, we are looking forward to a few get-togethers and scrimmages when it’s safe enough for all of us to be out playing soccer on the turf again.”

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