by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley girls soccer team needed the learning experience according to head coach Brett Lewis.
That is how he and his players treated Tuesday’s jamboree at home as they got to see their first action against outside competition.
Lewis said it was much needed because some of the Eagles’ starters just finished their basketball season last Tuesday so some just started attending soccer practice last week.
Grain Valley worked on establishing its chemistry as they played two 40-minute exhibition games – one against Oak Grove and one against Blue Springs.
After witnessing his team play, Lewis said there are still some kinks to work out.
“We are trying some different formation and putting people in different positions,” Lewis said. “It was a good learning experience for us. We are just a couple of passes away from making everything click a little bit better. We’re still not on the same page in terms of the attack.”
“But once we figure that out, we are going to score a lot of goals.”
Despite that, the Eagles scored one goal in 80 minutes of play and did not surrender any, having an overall successful day.
They won the shot battle with Blue Springs 3-2 and had one goal against the Panthers when freshman Radleigh Childers stole the ball from an Oak Grove ball handler near the Panthers’ penalty box and scored on an open shot.
“I was pretty excited and nervous,” Childers said. “I am glad I got it over with and got to experience this at home and being surrounded by family.”
The Eagles were on Oak Grove’s third of the field most of the match and appeared to be even possession wise against Blue Springs in the other game.
From a talent perspective, Grain Valley has multiple players who can score and make plays for their teammates. The offense appears it will be led by juniors Annabelle Totta and Emma Thiessen and Childers.
On defense, the Eagles looked sharp, too. They didn’t allow any shot attempts from Oak Grove and only gave up to long shots on goal from Blue Springs, which were saved by freshman goalkeeper Alayna Maybell.
She had two saves and multiple collections on balls that rolled into the penalty box. She showed the ability to be aggressive at the right times. At one point, she was able to thwart an opportunity for Blue Springs by coming up in the box and knocking a Wildcat pass out of bounds before they could get a shot off.
“She played goalie before with her club team in the past, so she has experience there. She understands when to come out and when to stay back. She has a good IQ of the game. I think we are going to be fine back there.”
While the Eagles looked solid at both ends of the field, they also showed that several players can be versatile as Lewis had his girls play at multiple different positions. It’s something that Thiessen said could be valuable to the team.
“Coach Lewis has been able to find multiple sports for us to play in,” Thiessen said. “I played the 8, the 9 and 10. Everyone is pretty versatile. Everyone can go anywhere and that’s a pretty great skill to have.”
The Eagles will play their first game of 2023 at the Platte County Invitational Saturday.
Grain Valley junior Annabelle Totta shields off a Blue Springs player as she attempts to gather the ball. Photo credit: Michael Smith
Grain Valley junior Emma Thiessen prepares to unleash a corner kick. Photo credit: Michael Smith