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Hudson girls' soccer team welcomes back Allie Knutson

Raider girls' soccer coach Allie Knutson (at right with clipboard) gives instructions to her players at the beginning of practice Monday afternoon at the high school. Knutson, a former player and coach at Hudson, is back as head coach this season after spending two years in the Peace Corps. Bob Burrows photo

Allie Knutson said she's still getting used to being back home after spending two years in Mongolia with the Peace Corps. But she admits she feels right at home on the soccer field.

Knutson, a 2004 Hudson High School graduate and four-year letterwinner as a Raider player, spent the 2009 season as her former team's head coach and guided the team to a 14-6-1 record and regional championship.

She travelled to Mongolia with the Peace Corps where she spent two years using the degree she earned in elementary education at UW-Green Bay to teach English as a foreign language to students in grades 4-11.

The Raiders have had two different coaches in the last two years, including Knutson's father, John, last season. But when Allie returned to Hudson last summer and landed a job teaching language arts at Hudson Middle School, John Knutson stepped aside to allow his daughter to reclaim the reins.

Allie Knutson said her father, who will coach the Raider junior varsity this season, left the program in good shape.

"It's been good so far," she said. "Everybody who came back is positive and excited to be back; that's a good sign."

Knutson said she's thrilled to be back as well, even if she's still adjusting to her old home town after spending two years living in a yurt in Mongolia.

"I'm really happy to be back," she said. "It's odd, I don't know how to describe it, and I've been back almost a year now, but don't know if I'm really 'with it' yet. I don't know when I'll feel like I'm in a rhythm, but soccer helps."

Knutson, who went on to star at UW-Green Bay after her playing days with the Raiders, said soccer was also part of her life while in Mongolia.

"They didn't have it as structured as it is here," she said. "We had a soccer club and I'd play with the students. It was great, the older boy students who couldn't care less about my English class would always ask 'are we playing soccer today?' It was a good way for me to connect with them. But I couldn't really coach; I didn't know the right words in Mongolian."

Knutson and the Raiders, led by senior co-captains Molly Bichrt and Alyssa Claflin, will hit the fields for their season opener this Thursday, April 12, at 7 p.m. against Eau Claire Memorial at the middle school field. Knutson said she's just looking for a strong effort from the team.

"Last week we focused on defense right away, so if we play well on defense and look strong and together we'll be happy," she said.

The Raiders open the season with four straight home games. Following Thursday's contest with the Old Abes, they will host Menomonie Tuesday, April 17, River Falls Thursday, April 19, and Rice Lake Tuesday, April 24, all at 7 p.m.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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