The Central girls soccer team got back into the playoff bracket last season, and two returning starters are looking to help lead a return trip.
When Maddie Kramber and Faith Thomas helped lead the Lady Chargers past Timber Creek in overtime in the final district game and secure a playoff spot last year, it marked the first time Central had been in the playoffs in two years.
Now, the seniors know it will take another concerted effort of forging new chemistry and hard work to repeat the feat.
But they’re certainly prepared to do what it takes.
“We had our struggles last season but we were able to pull it out and make it to playoffs,” Thomas said. “But we’re very excited to see how this year goes.”
Central made the playoffs but bowed out in the first round to Allen.
“Every year we have had a bit of an obstacle, and making it to the playoffs gives us momentum to do better this year,” Kramber added.
During Kramber’s freshman year, Central went three rounds deep into the playoffs.
The Lady Chargers graduated six seniors and will have eight on this year’s roster.
With added experience and leadership, Central will at least have a leg up on where they started last year.
Central head coach Lauren Arias said Kramber and Thomas are both key leaders from their defender positions.
They were both first team all-district selections and play a physical game, Arias said.
“They’re anchors of our team and good under pressure,” Arias said.
Although both players have played select soccer in the past, they are working on their own this summer.
Putting in mileage and working on individual skills are on the lists of the players’ workout schedules.
As seniors, the two players are working to find the balance between being their best for soccer and preparing for a final year of high school.
“There are some conflicts with school and I want to be loyal to the team,” Kramber said. “It’s hard to choose.”
Kramber has plenty of years under her belt, having started playing soccer at the age of 3 or 4, she said.
Thomas was a much older 7 when she picked up the sport.
With that sort of experience on the field, leadership may be one of the key components the two seniors bring along with their physical play.
Kramber was a captain last year and she said knowing how to direct communication across the field is as important as being able to pass well to the outside for her forwards.
As a captain, Kramber knows there’s added responsibility, but she and Thomas realize younger players look up to them.
“It’s nice being respected, but it’s definitely a responsibility to do the right thing,” Kramber said.
Thomas said she tries to lead by being an encourager and helps push others to be their best.
“We have to show them we’re there to work and have fun at the same time and to do the best you can,” Thomas said.
“I give it my all and push it to the limit. I’m smart with the ball and hope other people would agree with that,” she joked.
Leading this year will entail incorporating freshmen and rising JV team members along with the seasoned players.
“We’ll work on team bonding, connecting on our passes and working with our skills and finishing balls when trying to score,” Thomas said of imperatives when the team reports back.
It will be a test for the Lady Chargers as they face new foes as a part of the new District 3-6A.
Kramber said she’s looking forward to the trip to Abilene to take on their new district opponent.
“It will be a little bit of a throwback when we went there to play our second round (playoff) game,” she said of her freshman year experience in the playoffs.