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Young forwards make bright future in Mean Green soccer

Young forwards make bright future in Mean Green soccer

Young forwards make bright future in Mean Green soccer
September 19
14:15 2013

John Lugo / Staff Writer

The young legs of freshman Rachel Holden and sophomore Amber Haggerty have been stepping up for the Mean Green soccer team, and some credit to that goes to the veteran at the position.

Senior Vanessa Ibewuike sees the team’s future in good hands once she graduates this year and Holden and Haggerty are expected to provide leadership. Some qualities in their game are rare when compared to the average freshman, Ibewuike said.

“A lot of players might be a little nervous to shoot the ball. Them, they come right out and they’re ready to shoot, they’re ready to put the ball in the back of the net,” Ibewuike said. “That’s something that usually comes with age, so it’s good to see freshmen and sophomores step up with those shots.”

Holden said along with the advice she receives from veteran players such as Ibewuike, she focuses on their actions as her main source of learning. She’s received advice on multiple aspects of her game, but playing and communicating on the field is where she learns best.

“Just playing with them helps me learn what runs to make, what balls to run onto, they give us a lot of advice but it’s mainly their actions that I strive to be like,” Holden said. “I think it’s a really close team and it’s like a family field, so the communication is always on point.”

Coach John Hedlund said that some credit to how well they’ve done so far has to go to the players developing a great level of chemistry on the field. The veterans’ experience in their previous schools and not getting rattled in games has really helped the younger forwards adjust to the university level of competition.

“I think the more we play them, the more chemistry you’re really starting to see,” Hedlund said. “For us, it’s just playing certain players next to each other and that helps the team chemistry overall and they’re gonna be more in their comfort zone out on the field.”

Being able to speak to one another and giving constructive criticism is a huge factor for the team. In practice, halftime and even off the field in every day life scenarios the players are open with one another for any input others may have.

Haggerty said there is a strong bond between the players off the field as well. She looks up to Ibewuike on the field and doesn’t mind when she has something to say off the field as well.

“We look to her, she creates a lot on the field and I feel like I’ve learned a lot from her. She’s really encouraging on the field, she definitely has our back,” Haggerty said. “Her being a veteran, I look up to her a lot. Off the field, I definitely love Vanessa. She’s strong minded.”

Not only with Ibewuike, but the team keeps an open mind with anyone who wants to speak up on how the team can improve. Holden and Haggerty have learned in their early careers that team chemistry is essential.

“We all talk, especially on the field. At halftime, we’ll all get together and say what we need to do and tell each other how we need to improve,” Haggerty said. “I’ll ask how I’m doing, so we have no problem telling each other what to do and how to improve our overall game up front.”

Coach Hedlund said that he believes that the young group of forwards is the future of the program. With Holden’s big start, Haggerty’s smooth transition and the development of Anna Flobeck, he believes the depth at that position is solidified.

For Ibewuike, it’s always about throwing out more ideas and different options for the players to let them know that it’s not just one way that they have to do things. While trying to help the younger players with their game as much as she can while still here, she says the team will still have potential in the coming years with them.

“I think when we have forwards like Amber and Rachel on the team we know that the future is gonna be bright,” Ibewuike said. “They’re doing such amazing things in their freshman and sophomore years, it just shows that once they’re at the senior level they’re gonna be taking over games. They’re already taking over games, so it bodes well for our future.”

Freshman forward Rachel Holden takes possession of the ball during practice on Wednesday afternoon. -Photo by Edward Balusek / Staff Photographer 

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