Warriors soccer loses chance for young team to mesh

Smithville girls soccer loses a chance for its young squad to mesh when the spring sports season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Sophomore goalie Arlee Cado is pictured celebrating with her team after blocking a shootout kick to win the district semifinals in May 2019.

SMITHVILLE — The Smithville girls soccer team lost its only senior starter in January when returning all-state selection Mahlee Wohlford tore her ACL during her basketball season.

The Warriors still held high hopes for the 2020 season as juniors McKenzie Robinson, Olivia Littleton and Arlee Cado and sophomore Emma Harris looked to mesh with a talented group of incoming freshmen.

Smithville head coach Josh Reed said freshmen Sydney Weers and Jessica Baker had already positioned themselves for starting roles before the coronavirus pandemic ended the spring sports season. He said another three or four would have competed for playing time.

“We were going to be a real young team, but they just didn’t play young,” Reed said. “These kids have played soccer since they were 4 years old and have played at the highest level.”

Reed said this freshman crop stood out not just because of the talent, but the players were both enthusiastic and very coachable.

“This group was really different in my eyes because they would thank me for correcting small things in their game,” Reed said. “It’s a rare thing in this day and age.”

Robinson, who leads all returners with nine goals last season, said she was initially concerned with how much the team would need to rely on freshmen. Her view changed as the team started to gain chemistry during the last practices before spring break.

“We were all able to adapt to each other and the freshmen are really strong players who know how to play fast,” Robinson said. “I think we got stronger from last year.”

Robinson said the team looked like it could be even stronger this year as freshmen like Alana Edwards and Abby Crimm gained varsity experience.

Those projections will have to wait until next season.

Reed has already talked with his players about resetting their goals to work toward next season, but he said it’s really tough for the juniors who planned to have two shots at making a run at state.

“They realized they’re down to their last chance now,” Reed said. “That puts a little more pressure on them, but they were also just excited to play with this freshman class. They blended and merged so well that it was going to be a truly great year.”

It was extra difficult for Robinson. The midfielder spent the winter season jumping between her club soccer team and playing point guard for Warriors girls basketball team. She saw the spring sports season as her chance to slow down a bit.

“It was really disappointing because I was really looking forward to (focusing on soccer),” Robinson said. “Going from basketball to soccer and soccer to basketball really was stressful. I was hoping to get that stress off by just playing soccer and having fun with it.”

Many of the players like Robinson have turned their attention back to their club teams.

Robinson said she has Zoom practices with her team on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while doing personal workouts on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

She takes a break on Sundays.

“I feel like I need a break sometimes,” she said.

Sports Writer Mac Moore can be reached at 389-6643 or mac.moore@mycouriertribune.com.

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