Sports

Young Lakewood soccer team rebuilding

In a short-field scrimmage, Alexa Chase stretches for the ball. - DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter
In a short-field scrimmage, Alexa Chase stretches for the ball.
— image credit: DANIELLE SZULCZEWSKI Sports Reporter

After years of playing together, last year’s Lakewood girls soccer team enjoyed a winning season, taking fourth place in the league.

But it’s a young team stepping up to take the place of those seniors.

Just as the Cougars graduated a large number of four-year lettermen, this year’s soccer team begins the cycle anew with seven freshmen making the cut for this fall’s varsity team. And with so much youth on the team, several may be asked to play important roles early in their careers.

One such Lakewood freshman is Miranda Head, who will likely start at goalkeeper this year after the graduation of all-league keeper Emily Steinborn.

“She pretty much came up to us in the beginning of tryouts and said she’s the keeper, she wants to be the keeper. That’s the first time we’ve actually had someone come up and said I want to be the goalie,” said Vaughn Vandelac, who takes over the girls program from coach Jeremiah Wohlgemuth. The former head coach will still be an assistant with the girls team.

Vandelac, who is also the head coach of the Lakewood boys team, said Head’s footwork ability should give the Cougars more options in their defensive play, allowing defenders to drop the ball back and led Head clear it in a game situation.

Just four players bring substantial varsity experience back to this year’s squad. Vandelac is hoping for a lot of mentorship and guidance for his young team from seniors Kelsey Gann and Anna Work.

“Gann … has pretty much done everything we have asked of her. She stepped up,” he said, adding that Work and sophomore Alisha Scott provide a lot of leadership at practice starting with the conditioning drills.

The lone junior on the team, Erin Dierckx is back as the fourth player with much varsity experience.

Vandelac said choosing to put together such a young roster wasn’t an easy decision, but added that he was weighing the future of the program in his cuts.

“The boys (program), we’ve just had a lot of good talent coming in and now I think the girls, with the select teams, the girls are finally starting to catch up. We knew that the middle school was producing some really good players, and we’re staring to see the benefits of it,” he added. “They’re good and they deserve it. This week we put them through a lot of stuff, and with the stress of being on varsity they showed themselves.”

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