Veteran Grand Junction girls soccer team hoping to make noise
The Grand Junction High School girls soccer team has the type of experience that doesn’t come along every year.
With 10 seniors, the veteran bunch looks to make the Class 5A postseason in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005 and 2006.
Tigers coach Adrea Tilford is in her seventh season at Grand Junction, fourth as head coach, and has high expectations for this season.
“I feel like this is one of the strongest teams I’ve ever gotten to be a part of at Junction,” Tilford said. “As long as all of our pieces click together we’ll be a pretty strong unit.”
Grand Junction is off to a 4-1 start and has won its first three Southwestern League games.
The Tigers continue in SWL play at 7 tonight against Central at Walker Field.
“For the beginning of the season we are at a good place, but we still have things we can improve on,” Tilford said. “We have to do it together, we have to work as a team. We have all these great players, but no one can do it alone.”
Of the 10 seniors, at least seven have been consistent starters for three years.
“They’ve always been really strong players, they were always technically sound and had great coaches growing up,” Tilford said. “But they’ve gotten the maturity that happens with any teenager, and I’ve seen them making consistent quality decisions and understanding the game at a better level.”
The Tigers’ strength is along the front line, with senior forwards Whitney Ravan and Stephanie Drake and attacking midfielder Ashley Wallace.
Wallace led the Tigers with 12 goals last season, and has scored four goals in the first five games this season.
“It’s something special,” Wallace said. “We’ve played together since we were little kids, and it’s been to cool to be here all together in our senior year.”
Defensively, the Tigers are led by defensive midfielder Kyleigh Larson and defenders Danielle Erickson and Allison Maryanski.
“We have strong players in every position,” Wallace said. “We have all been together for so many years that our personalities don’t clash.”
The only area on the field where the Tigers didn’t have experience heading into the season was in goal. Shari Yurick graduated after four years as goalkeeper, and Tilford wasn’t sure who she would turn to in goal.
Along came junior Lexi Anderson.
Anderson, a former defender and midfielder, has 25 saves through five games and has given up only two goals.
“We weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Tilford said. “Lexi came up to me earlier this year and said she wanted to try out for the spot. We know she cares about the team doing well and is willing to put in the effort.”
When a team is led by seniors, Tilford said it’s important to allow the group to have a bigger role in deciding the team’s approach.
“The biggest thing is they have to own the team,” Tilford team. “They have to set the tone more than I ever can.”