by John Unrein
Freshman Emma Thiessen was a standout for the Lady Eagles soccer team in their 6-2 win over the St. Michael the Archangel Guardians on March 29th. Thiessen managed to put not one, two, three, but four goals in net for Grain Valley. The first and final strikes by Thiessen that lit up the score board display her confidence and skill set.
Thiessen would split two defenders at the top of the goalie box, leaving her off balance and sliding on her backside before successfully finishing the shot with her right foot on goal nine minutes into the first half. Equally as impressive was the left footed turn strike that flew past the Guardian goalie thirty-one minutes into the second half by Thiessen. Thiessen joined Raena Childers in producing a hat trick for the second consecutive game in a row for the Lady Eagles.
“Getting open and receiving good passes from my teammates helped our success during this game. Us finding each other led to the ball getting to the back of the net,” Thiessen said.
“I have played soccer since I was three years old. That allows me to know situations, like when the goalie will come out (from net), and what type of shot to try.”
Grain Valley’s offensive outpouring was joined by Childers and Rian Handy, who each scored a goal eight and thirty-three minutes into the second half, respectively. The Lady Eagles continue to control and push the ball into their opponents’ zone through awareness in spacing and accurate passing. Those elements combined with aggressively getting to loose soccer balls and turning to get possession have fueled Grain Valley’s 4-0 undefeated start to the season.
Defense was equally at the forefront of the Lady Eagles win. Grain Valley doubled their opponents’ shots on goal by an 18-9 margin. Defender Sophie Broockerd and goalie Camihle Williams were decisive and physical in shielding their net. Broockerd’s capacity to read the pitch in front of her and cut off passes stymied several charges by the Guardians. Williams demonstrated proficiency in halting scoring attempts through knocking down and covering up shots.
“Playing soccer since a young age and with my club team at a high level has boosted my confidence. My trigger in going for the ball is reading bad touches that lead to it popping too far out in front of my opponent. That is my sign to step up and gives me the time I need to get to the ball and control possession,” Broockerd said.
Williams added, “I am to the point that I trust my judgment when I make a save and don’t even think about it. Afterwards, my thoughts turn to moving on to the next one because the game is not over. You have to have a short memory as a goalie if you give up a score.”
“Soccer is hard. I am glad that I have a good defense in front of me. Our defensive line with Sophie (Broockerd) and Kelsey (Duett) are not shy about getting their body on people and getting after the ball. That is good.”
Grain Valley has had equity of voice between players and coaches this season on the field during games. It is noticeable. The avoidance of praise or critique being too one-sided has led to the Lady Eagles adjusting quickly to what is needed on the field. A trend that Lady Eagles head soccer coach Tyler Nichol is enjoying at the outset of the season.
“You can see the growing confidence in our young players. That has been the best part to the start of this campaign. That combined with our two senior backs on defense (Broockerd and Duett). Both throw their bodies on the line all over the field. They are like keepers without hands with the way they interfere with things,” Nichol said.
“It is gratifying to see Thiessen have the confidence to attempt the shots she did tonight. It means a lot to me in that I got to coach her club team growing up when she was younger, along with some of our other freshmen who are now as tall as me,” Nichol remarked with a smile.
Freshman Emma Thiessen attempts a corner kick for the Lady Eagles.
Photo credit: Valley News staff
Freshman Annabelle Totta sprints past the defense.
Photo credit: Valley News staff