PLYMOUTH — Area teams shook of some of the rust while giving fans a preview of their 2011 talent at the Plymouth Girls Soccer Jamboree Saturday.
New faces joined some old ones as Plymouth, Argos and Bremen each played each other in three 20-minute IHSAA-sanctioned scrimmages at the Kindt Soccerplex.
One face that is both new and old is Plymouth Head Girls Soccer Coach Chuck DeWitt.
DeWitt takes over as the third girls soccer coach in as many years, but Rockies fans may recognize him as the former head coach of Plymouth’s boys team where he held the reins for 10 years until 2004.
“I know the girls were fairly apprehensive,” said DeWitt. “For the seniors, this is their third coach that they’ve dealt with and the juniors have had two coaches, and they’re kind of wondering ‘Who is this guy? What does he do?’ I’m pretty calm and quiet, confident in what I do. I like to let them build on that as a team. On the sidelines I’m not a yeller or a screamer. We work in practice on what to do and when it’s game time, they’re going to go out and execute.”
If Saturday’s scrimmages were any indication, the Lady Rockies look poised to score some goals this season as numerous players at both the forward and the midfield position found the net against Argos and Bremen. Creativity should be a strength this year.
“There is no question that we work a lot on individual moves and maneuvers, combination plays,” DeWitt said. “We look for the one pass in and out. We like to take the ball light, bring it in. We’re going to be able to shoot from just about anywhere. I tell the girls if they can see the 18-yard line, they need to be looking for a shot.”
Led by senior tri-captains Stephanie Rojas, Krista Vanlue and Maggie Morrow, the team boasts a good mix of experience and incoming talent with a particularly promising freshman class that should see some minutes at the varsity level.
“We have a good mix of seniors on the team, and we have Allie Wright who is a freshman playing there and getting some regular minutes at her position, plus you’re going to see a lot of JV kids playing up,” said DeWitt. “Our freshmen we feel are a very good class so we’re going to mix them in throughout the year as we see the opportunity.”
Bremen boasts plenty of returning talent with nine seniors back for the 2011 campaign in forward Aimie DeLeon, midfielders Jenna Pfeiffer, Heather Martin and Shannon Jordan, and defenders Shannan Miller, Jessica Tomlinson, Sara Krieger, Kailee Feldman and Shayna Graverson.
“Our returning players know how to play very well together, and I think that goes both ways as far as a strength and a weakness,” said Bremen head coach Erin Welborn. “Because our younger players already see them playing very well together, and I think they’re a little timid to get in there and challenge some of that. But then on the flip side of that we do have a very good group of girls who will play very well together, who will get out there and put all their effort out. And we do have some very strong freshmen who will get out and put all their effort into it.”
Several of Welborn’s players are looking at collegiate prospects, and that drive to reach the next level has both upped the play of those individuals and the program’s competitiveness in general.
“We’ve got a couple girls who are looking to play college, and they’ve got some good prospects,” said Welborn. “Abby (Brown) and Heather (Martin) have been looked at by a couple, Jenna Pfeiffer has been looked at by a couple. We’ve got some returners that have really stepped up the play, and they really want to look forward to playing beyond high school. Even if it’s not D1 or anything like that they just want to play ball, and that’s where from when I started to Bremen to where we are now, that’s a huge difference in attitude.”
Argos also owns a strong senior class with seven seniors back in forwards Kayla Drew and Dani Fishburn, midfielders Katelin VanMeter, Carly McCay and Stefany Parrish, and defenders Karalie Kring and Samantha Hopkins, as well as third-year junior goalie Karlee VanDerWeele.
“This year I feel we’re kind of starting where we left off. We’re kind of ahead of the curve because we have so many kids back,” said Lady Dragons head coach Jon Alcorn.
“We have a good, experienced group of kids back. Parrish does a good job of controlling that midfield, and in the back Kring and (Keri) Bair are two that really kind of took charge a little bit last year and are ready to take charge defensively. Karlee VanDerWeele is back in goal. She has two years of experience already as a junior. A good mix of experience back.”
Team chemistry and good attitudes are also team strengths for Argos this year.
“The main thing is we’ve got a very good group of kids as far as personalities and how they interact,” Alcorn said. “For girls, the social aspect is huge, and I think I’m going to enjoy this year just because of that.”