“I think this can be a real positive year with 10 freshman, I also have seven seniors going out, and that’s the largest group of seniors I’ve had going out,” Neace said. “They are pumped up and ready to go — all seven of my seniors are ready to go. It sets the freshman up for success, even though next year will be a rebuilding year, they will have some experience. I only have two juniors and three sophomores. There’s a big gap and they need to utilize what the seniors can teach them.”
Among the seven seniors, Neace said the most leadership has come from Elizabeth Perkins.
“She’s been a captain for the past two years, she’s been a travel player for at least the last five years and she’s been with me ever since she has been U-6,” Neace said. “She is a very good athlete, she is a basketball All-Star, All-Conference in basketball and soccer. Overall she’s a good leader, she communicates well and she can also participate on the field and show the rest of the team what the team needs to do — a very good role model.”
With the season opener on the horizon with road matches against Princeton and South Spencer starting Wednesday, before the home opener August 27 at Pike Central at Rees Field. With such a big group coming together in practice, Neace said her biggest concern is making sure the chemistry is where it needs to be.
“Everyone needs to learn the way we play with a possession game,” Neace said. We are working on just being able to trust, because that group of 10 freshman has been together the past two or three years, and it’s an entire new team, you have to learn to trust each other to see where their strengths and weaknesses are. I think the chemistry is really good already, because that’s the good thing about WC — everyone knows everyone and we all make each other feel welcome. The girls have already done things together to team build.”
One of the seniors will be from Norway, Vibeke Salmelid, who Neace says has been played against professional players in her native country. Neace hopes her talent and experience can be an asset to the evolving Cardinals offense.
“She has played professionally and against some women who are 30- years-old. She’s very good in the midfield,” Neace said. “I think she’s going to be a player to watch.”