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The Grant County Middle School girls’ soccer team started their season working to learn the game and their hard work paid off in the end.
The girls’ season began with a loss and a tie, but once the girls’ learned how to spread the field and start the attack on defense, they ended the season with seven straight wins and didn’t allow a goal.
“In the beginning of the season, I think it was difficult for the girls to buy into my strategy of soccer,” coach Melinda White said. “I wanted them to compete at the next level and it’s something that they weren’t used to. Our first couple of games were a little rough, but they finally started to blend together as a team and see what I wanted for them made sense.”
White concentrated on developing skills for the girls, knowing that the seventh and eighth graders have the chance to compete at the high school level on the junior varsity next year.
“I think it’s important because if they don’t start to develop that competitive edge and the technical skill at the middle school, they’ll come up to the high school and flounder,” White said. “The girls learned that they could learn the offense from the back. By the end of the second game, they began to push the ball up the line and distribute it into the offense. If you’re building the attack from the back, it changes the entire pace of the game.”
According to White, the team was led by several players. Mackenzie Tucker, who played in goal, was “almost an assistant coach on and off the field.” Alexis Willen, sweeper, was aggressive and physical on defense. Gwen MacAdams was White’s “superstar”, playing midfield for the Lady Braves and was the second leading scorer on the team. MacAdams’ received the 110 percent award, which was voted on by the players. Mollie Pelfrey led the team in scoring with eight goals.
White believes the team improved the most just “learning how to play intelligently.”
“At the beginning of the year, they wanted to kick the ball and run,” White said. “For them, me teaching them that there is strategy to soccer helped them improve. They learned to communicate on the field and developed the ability to play at the next level.”
During the season, a highlight was their 7-0 win over Owen County, as MacAdams and Pelfrey each scored three goals. Tucker was also able to come out of goal and scored the other goal.
White wanted to acknowledge the girls’ work during the season, holding an inaugural banquet for girls’ soccer.
“We wanted to make it feel like they had accomplished something,” White said. “Our eighth grade night allowed us to recognize them for their commitment to the sport and being able to juggle academics and athletics and being successful in the two. We’re finally recognizing them as athletes.”
White believes Pelfrey can make an impact next year, along with Chelsea Purcell (this year’s most improved player), Katelyn Mills (the only sixth grader to start this season), Emerald Fry and Brianna Cid.
“We’ll still have a great team at the middle school next year, no doubt,” White said.