SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County girls soccer team is a couple weeks into its schedule and the season has produced new faces and new talent.
“For having 13 freshman, we are getting better every day,” Lady Rebels head coach Wade Wright said. “It is showing. If we keep improving like we are improving, we are going to make a run at the region (2-AAAAAA title) to get the place we want to in the state tournament.”
Wright, having played the game since he was 4, is excited to share everything he knows with a group that has high soccer IQ.
“We are in a very good place with this program right now in that my seniors and juniors are talented, and they get it because they are part of the last team that went and did so well in state,” he said. “So, they are bringing that intensity. The freshmen come in wide eyed, but the good thing is they all have played and have comprehension.
“We are working on dynamic aspects of the game and are having intelligent conversations, which means if we are having those now, where are we going to be in three or four years?”
Despite their young core, the mission is still the same. The Lady Rebels want to get over the hump of struggling when they reach postseason play.
After going 8-8 during the regular season a year ago, Effingham County dropped a 10-0 decision to Lakeside in the first round of the state playoffs.
“We are not where we need to be to compete at the state level and we don’t want to just be a local team,” Wright said. “We want to be a state team.”
Still, having coached for so many years, Wright knows anything can happen when everyone brings their A-game and those talents mesh.
“The funny thing about soccer is that on any given day, anybody can beat anybody,” Wright said. “You have so many people on the field and sometimes there are weather conditions, but when you are confident about what you are putting on the field and what’s coming off the bench, those things don’t matter as much.”
Kinsey Stone, Ardyn Montgomery, Lydia Beech and Taylor Clyde are some of the freshmen who have made a strong contribution thus far. They vied and earned starting roles.
“Everybody brings something to the table,” Wright said. “I’ve probably never coached a group of girls where there is such a diversity of capability.”
Megan Zeldenrust, Bailee Hildebrandt and Stephanie Miller are also key contributors. Zeldenrust, Hildebrandt and Ashlynn Goff represent the team as captains.
“My captains are an extension of me,” Wright said. “We are going to be as good as we can be because of those three captains.”