Belton’s girls soccer team will be young again this season, and coach Carlos McField is fine with that. So, apparently, are his players for that matter.
“The girls aren’t worried about it,” McField said. “They’re not afraid to play anybody, which is good. They’re young enough not to be scared and I love that.”
With only three seniors and four juniors on the roster, McField said he will rely again on freshmen and sophomores to make up the corps of the team much the same as last season, when the Pirates finished 15-11-1 and reached the Class 3 District 14 final. But many of those underclassmen are already battle-tested, and there are still enough experienced players to offer the leadership the Pirates will need.
“They’re young but they’ve played a lot of soccer,” said McField, who is starting his fourth season as the Pirates’ coach. “But when you’re a freshman and you have to go up against a senior, it’s a totally different thing. But I think they’ve got it and they can handle the pressure.”
McField expects the leadership to come from the Pirates’ three team captains: Sarah D’Attoma, a senior defender; Maya Miller, a junior forward; and Grace Dunlap, a sophomore defender. Miller scored 12 goals and had two assists last season, while D’Attoma and Dunlap will anchor the Pirates’ back line.
“I think those three girls are obviously our leaders,” McField said. “And the team goes where they go.”
Joining Miller up front will be sophomore forward Josie Cross, who is the Pirates’ top returning scorer after tallying 15 goals and four assists last season. They will form an attacking three along with sophomore Gillian Solloy. McField also expects midfielders Hailey West and Reyne Lesch, who are both sophomores, to contribute to the offense, too.
“It’s a young but dynamic group of girls up there,” McField said. “I’m very impressed from what I’ve seen from the front three. I think there are going to be some goals scored there. Add Haley and Reyne, who are attacking midfielders, and they’re going to score some goals too.”
Besides D’Attoma and Dunlap, Belton’s defense will also have Allie Berry at right back and junior Montana Elliott at left back. Jessica Weber, a freshman defender, can also play at left back. McField needs to find a new goalkeeper, and he has junior Lexi Vlahos competing against freshmen Delaney Myers and Abbie Aguirre for the job.
“It’s always a concern,” McField said of having to find a new goalie. “The goalie’s part of the back four. They’ve got to work together, they’ve got to communicate. Whenever someone’s new, it always makes it a tougher task.”
McField though believes he has a team strong enough for the task presented by another rugged schedule. Kearney and Platte County will again be the teams to beat the Suburban Blue Conference, and the Pirates will also face defending Class 3 state champion Notre Dame de Sion and a tournament in St. Louis.
Being young, Belton might take some lumps early. But in time McField believes these Pirates will quickly grow into a very competitive group.
“I like the work they’ve put in,” McField said. “We’re nowhere close to the finished product, but once we get there, I think we’ll have a really good team.”