The Notre Dame-West Burlington/Danville girls soccer team has been knocking on the door of the state tournament the last several years, only to have that door slammed in its face in regional final matches, twice by North Scott, once by Pella.

The Nikes are hoping to open that door and walk through it this year, and they have the talent to make it happen.

Now, it is up to the Nikes to go out and perform to their capabilities to get back in the position to become the first girls soccer team from southeast Iowa to qualify for the state tournament.

"We have a good returning core of five seniors who have been a bedrock for us the last four years," ND-WB/Danville girls soccer coach Todd Ackerman said. "We hope to ride them to a better opportunity at the state tournament this year."

That core of players the Nikes are counting on includes forward Kate Luers and midfielders Anna Tillo, McKenzie Speer and Catherine Lillie and defender Abby Crowner. Luers and Tillo were the Nikes' top two goal scorers a year ago, while Lillie was fourth in scoring. Luers (26 goals, 10 assists) and Tillo (25 goals, 14 assists) were in the top 10 in Class 2A in goals scored last year, while Lillie added eight goals and six assists. Add Speer (four goals, seven assists) and the Nikes have as much firepower as any team in the state.

Addy Parrott, a freshman from Danville, will give the Nikes another scoring threat from the midfield.

"We have most of our offense back, including our two leading scorers," Ackerman said. "We have girls who play multiple sports, so we will be missing some of them for six or seven matches. But we look at that as a chance for other players to step in and learn and develop that way."

The Nikes will have to shore up their defense, where they were hit hard by graduation. But with Crowner leading the way and Grace Dupuis and Hope Ward returning and the addition of freshman Lexi Seibert, the Nikes should be solid on the back line.

"We are less experienced on th back line, but we have two seniors and a couple people ready to step into those positions," Ackerman said. "We will be a little thinner that we have been the last couple years."

The Nikes have one of the best goalkeepers in Class 2A in junior Lani Mears, who had 70 saves, allowed just 16 goals and had a goals-against average of 93 percent last year.

"She does a really nice job in goal and she has a lot of experience. She has started ever since her freshman year," Ackerman said. "She is the anchor and a voice back there for our young defenders. It's always nice to have a good goalkeeper like Lani back there."

Ackerman also is looking for production from junior Kassidy Rashid and sophomores Taylor Ackerman and Izzy Hase in the midfield, as well as newcomers Peyton Carr, Kennedy Schuff, Karen Macedo, Viviana Barbosa and Aelxis Van Winkle.

"Our goal is to get back to the regional final and have a chance to play to go to state," Coach Ackerman said. "We get to that level every year and one of these years we are going to get through it and make it to state. We are hoping this will be the year."