Rookies, veterans are both key to girls soccer success
From a senior who was named a first-team All-State player to a freshman goalkeeper who was thrown into the job unexpectedly, the Lady Tigers have gotten contributions from players with varying degrees of varsity experience. Saturday, they showed their versatility in a win over Allentown Central Catholic that made Northwestern District 11 champions.
Senior Bailey Groff found out on Friday that she had been named to the All-State team. Groff, a team captain, scored a goal off a corner and nearly put a couple others in from the corner. She also provided strong defense as the Lady Tigers recorded a 2-0 shutout, their ninth of the season.
“She doesn’t get a lot of credit because she’s such a good defensive player,” said head coach Kelly Bleam. “I couldn’t be happier for her to be wearing that gold medal and to be going to the state tournament and that she’s an all-state selection.”
On the other end of the experience spectrum is goalkeeper Naomi Glassberg, a freshman. To start the season, Glassberg and junior Lauren Terrell were splitting time in goal. The plan was to bring Glassberg along slowly to let her adjust to playing varsity, but when Terrell went down with a wrist injury, Glassberg took over full-time and didn’t miss a beat.
“Naomi is a very, very good goalie and has been training in the goal since she was a little girl,” said Bleam. “That training is evidenced by her performance as a high school freshman. She plays a game that’s well beyond her years.”
Glassberg made some athletic stops against Central Catholic, deflecting one shot wide of the net and then catching another that appeared destined for the net. The Vikettes had other opportunities that Glassberg turned away, making many of them look easy.
“I had to work really hard to get where I am,” said Glassberg, who credits the more experienced players with helping her adjust to playing varsity. “It’s difficult to keep going and keep myself positive, along with everyone else on the field. I just work really hard to play well for my team. They’re really supportive. They’re all really nice and really help out a lot.”
“She’s a really good goalie,” said Groff. “She’s made amazing saves throughout the whole season.”
From the time that she came into camp Glassberg believed the team had the talent to go deep into playoffs. The team went through the regular season with a record of 16-2-0 and then won the Colonial League championship before adding the District 11 championship on Saturday. In all, the team has won 12 of its last 13 games, with just a loss to Liberty in their penultimate game of the season spoiling the streak.
“We’re looking to keep going and hoping to win states as well,” said Glassberg. “We knew we had a good team, so I kind of expected that we would get this far.”
Groff was quick to credit the team’s work ethic, chemistry and communication as key components of their successful season and run for gold medals.
“I’m really proud of all the girls on the team,” said Groff. “We all give it 100 percent out there and our whole team chemistry before we get on the field, while we’re on the field and after we leave the field is there. We’re constantly communicating back and forth with a positive attitude really encourages us to play well and I think there’s a chemistry among the players that really makes it special.”