It’s not completely uncommon for varsity girls soccer teams to have freshmen on the roster. In fact, many teams may have two or three. But few teams will carry seven freshmen players on the varsity squad as Trinity will this year.
“I knew we were going to take some, just because I had watched them since they were seventh-graders,” Lady Trojans coach Kurt Clawson said.
But even he probably wasn’t expecting the youth movement the team will get this season after graduating six starters from the 2015 team that advanced to the postseason as the fourth seed from District 7-6A.
Two of the freshmen will be regular starters and one is usually the first player off the bench. The others will rotate in throughout the season.
Often one of the biggest differences between freshmen and upperclassmen on the field is size, and that is indeed the case for Trinity, which is part of the reasoning for bringing them all up – so that depth will help them endure a grueling, physical season.
“It’s different when a 14-year-old plays against 14-year-olds as opposed to playing an 18-year-old,” Clawson said. “So you don’t know until you get them into tryouts.”
Just about two weeks into the season now, Clawson is pleased with how his youngsters are coming along.
“They’re holding their own,” he said. “They were nervous for about that first week, but after they realized their touch and decision making compares to everyone else, they just had to get used to the game being a little faster and a little more physical.”
With such an infusion of new faces, there is little doubt it will take some time for the team to jell on the field. Off the field, however, Clawson says the harmony is already apparent.
“The chemistry as far as camaraderie is awesome,” the coach said. “The girls have great personalities. About the only difference you can tell from the freshmen to the three-year lettermen is that the freshmen have to carry the ball bags. They don’t talk to them differently, they don’t treat them differently, the freshmen just have to carry out the stuff.”
Between the lines, though, it’s taking longer.
“Playing-wise we’re not even close,” Clawson conceded. “But that’s because we don’t make final roster decisions until we get those freshmen up [in November]. So they’re not knocking the ball around well chemistry-wise just because they haven’t been playing together but for a month.”
With so many underclassmen, the Lady Trojans want to maintain perspective when setting goals for this season.
“The expectation for girls soccer at Trinity is always to go to the playoffs,” Clawson said. “We have to be realistic about who we graduated and who we have in our district. You have two regional finalists and one was the state champion. You have to be realistic about what a young team can accomplish in this district.”
But playing the likes of defending state champion Coppell and perennial powerhouse Southlake Carroll provides this Trinity club with opportunities to see just how well it measures up.
“The fact is that we get better through those games [against teams like Carroll and Coppell] so that when we get to the playoffs, you have experience that could possibly win you a playoff game,” Clawson added. “You’re not going to see better players than you see on those two teams.”