BY SYDNEY WIDELL —
Girls soccer is seeing record-breaking freshman participation this season, with underclassmen making up more than half of the team’s 42 players. With two freshman making varsity after last month’s tryouts, the underclassmen are already proving to be beneficial assets to the team, as well as ensuring the team’s potential in the next few years.
“It’s a really fun experience to get to play with the older girls, and I’ve gotten to meet so many new people,” said Josie Lang, one of the freshmen who made the varsity team this season. “It’s been so fun so far.”
Upperclassmen also appreciate the new energy that the young players are bringing to the team.
“They bring a new perspective to the team and a really fiery excitement. They are quick on their feet and really willing to try new things,” said Genevieve Vahl, senior.
Marlee Lane, senior, agrees.
“They bring competition to the team and they are keeping us on our toes and on our game,” Lane said.
“We’ve got a really solid group of players this season and they are all working very hard already,” said Kyle Konkle, head coach.
Although the season is just beginning, many team members took advantage of the opportunities to play and practice during the winter. In addition to unofficial indoor pre-season training, some already have extended experience playing together from time on area club teams.
“A lot of the freshmen have a lot of really good experience playing. Lots of them have played together for a number of years, so they already work really well together. They’ve already shown that they are contributing team members,” Vahl said.
The adjustment to this season has so far been a fun challenge for the freshman.
“I’ve learned how to play with different people. Before this, I played for a long time on club so it’s really fun to interact with the other girls,” Lang said. “It’s been different to play on varsity with girls who are seniors.”
Experienced athletes are helping to make the transition easier, whether it comes to new formations, new team dynamics or new season goals.
“With younger players, they maybe aren’t used to the whole format and speed of high school soccer because they’ve never played with players who are four years older than them,” said Marlee Lane, senior. “It’s definitely hard to get used to, but it’s good for them to face that challenge. We work with them to help them get mentally in the game and help them perform against people who are older.”
This season, the team is preparing to meet tough competition from Whitefish Bay and Pewaukee, while also working to grow their younger players and establish a positive team dynamic.