by Michael Smith
After his team’s preseason jamboree, Grain Valley girls soccer coach Brett Lewis reminded his team that they have a target on its back.
That’s because the Eagles made it to the Class 3 state championship game last season before falling to Fort Zumwalt South.
They graduated two all-state players in Reana Childers and Sophie Broockerd, but retain multiple players from last year’s Class 3 state runner-up and still have plenty of firepower for the 2022 season.
That was evident in Monday’s preseason jamboree as the Eagles played a total of 75 minutes of soccer against Oak Grove and William Chrisman.
In 40 minutes, Grain Valley defeated the Bears 4-0 and tied Oak Grove 1-1.
Throughout the jamboree, the Eagles controlled possession against both teams. They looked like a team that could make some noise once again in 2022. And they are going to try and do that with mostly freshman and sophomores.
“We are a younger team, we only have two seniors,” Lewis said. “Our whole score is freshmen and sophomores."
“We stayed on our attacking half the majority of the time. It’s always what we aim for. We just have to work on breaking teams down in the final third of the field. A lot of teams will try to sit in on us and try to get the ball to one of their fast forwards on a counter attack. We have to learn how to deal with it when other teams back it in and put nine girls behind the ball.”
One of the players who should be able to help with that is returning all-state sophomore Emma Thiessen, who will play the striker position for Grain Valley. Against Chrisman, she scored two goals against Chrisman.
Helping her up front will be returning all-stater Annabelle Totta, who is slated to play on the left wing up top. Junior Kylie Barnett, who scored one goal against Chrisman and one against Oak Grove, figures to contribute some goals this season.
Senior Rian Handy and sophomore Kylee Bragaw are other players who could help the Eagles with scoring goals.
“We have lots of girls who can score,” Lewis said. “My guess is we will have a very spread out scoring sheet. I know some teams will focus on Emma and stopping her and that will open up opportunities for others.”
Grain Valley also has a talented freshman class that has Thiessen and Lewis excited.
“A lot of our freshmen stepped up today,” Thiessen said. “We have tons of good pieces here and we just have to figure out how to put them all together."
“Our freshmen Ally Gilbert and Mia Cole played amazing. This was a good event to get the nerves out for our freshman and give them an idea on what it’s like to play. I know those freshmen have been playing for a long time and they will contribute a ton.”
Cole is a newcomer that could make a huge impact for the Eagles. Lewis said she played some high-level club soccer in the past and is a versatile player who can play any position on the field. She scored an unassisted goal against Chrisman where she blasted a shot inside the left post from the top of the penalty box.
“Mia has played at a high level already and she’s stepped right in and we feel like we can put Mia in lots of places on the field,” Lewis said. “She’ll help us at any place we put her.”
The defense for the Eagles will be led by senior Lexi Arreguin, who plays at the center back position and Camihle Williams returns as the starting goalkeeper. Sevreign Aumua, Sophia Giuliano and Lexi Nicholson will also see time on the back line.
“Lexi is a stud back there,” Lewis said. “She is a leader.”
Grain Valley’s season-opener will be against Pleasant Hill in the Platte County Tournament on March 19.
Grain Valley junior Kylie Barnett looks for an open teammate along the sideline.
Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley sophomore Annabelle Totta dribbles while being guarded by two Oak Grove defenders. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Freshman Mia Cole, right, scored a goal against William Chrisman in the Eagles preseason jamboree. Photo credit: Michael Smith