When younger players are mentored by upperclassmen, soccer programs are built.
Timber Creek seems to have the concept in hand as a starting freshman and a four-year starter are helping lead the Lady Falcons to another possible soccer playoff appearance.
In the lifetime of the newest Keller ISD school, the girls soccer program has made the postseason each year.
Kristen Talbot, a senior, and freshman Avery Thies are working together to solidify the Lady Falcons’ defense.
What Talbot and others have learned are being passed along to the up-and-coming players.
“The first game was a little shaky for them but they got the hang of it pretty quick,” Talbot said of the rookies, including Thies.
“It’s been kind of fun for us (seniors) because we know the routine and it helps them in knowing they have role models and they know what to expect and what the program expects,” Talbot said. “They know there’s an expectation to perform at a high level.”
Thies seemed to hit the ground – or field – running and wasn’t overly concerned about her freshman status.
“I really had no expectations but to have fun,” Thies said. “I’ve played club soccer so I know how it is,” she said, saying she started club play at about age nine.
Thies knows you can earn your own respect.
“I was a little nervous at first, because the girls are so much older but after you play, it all just mixes in,” she said. “I’m settled in now.
As a defender Thies said her speed and ability to find the open player have made her conversion to the varsity level of play fairly easy.
To improve, Thies said she focuses on “playing faster and finding feet” to get to the ball to them. “I need to get the ball to them in the open,” she said.
Both players agreed the need to rotate to other positions due to multiple injuries was a bit of a distraction, initially.
“We’re picking up momentum now versus when we were working out the little kinks,” Talbot said. “We had to adapt to substitutions and new positions.”
Collectively, though, the team is gaining experience and confidence.
“This year, I think I gained a lot more confidence and vision of the field and what needs to go where and communicate with the other defenders on the back line,” Talbot said.
Talbots’ improved skills have aided in the confidence gain, especially with the familiarity of the others who have also been playing since their freshman year.
Now, the senior leadership has help meld the other players into the program culture.
“The seniors have taught us to take advantage of your time and work as hard as you can,” Thies said. She also noted that head coach, Mike King, has emphasized “to work really hard and if we’re not playing up to our ability, he’ll let us know,” Thies joked.
Now the emphasis is to match the program expectation of reaching the playoffs and then advancing as far as possible.
“We can tell it’s winding down and we’re getting in the groove and making the connections on the field,” Talbot said. “We’re constantly working toward the standard,” she said.