WARSAW – She’s been a captain, she’s been an award winner, she’s been a champion. What else is left for Dayle Harvey to accomplish on the soccer pitch?
“Every time we get on the line to run sprints, it’s ‘Noblesville’,” Harvey stated with a quickness, referring to a 2-1 loss to the Millers in the regional championship last October. “It’s all about that Noblesville game and how do we get that back. We want it back, we want that title.”
Harvey, who was a junior captain for the Warsaw Lady Tiger soccer program a year ago, will again lead the squad this season. While much of the press for Warsaw’s run to the regional finals came from its potent offensive attack, Harvey and company were stone walls in the back third.
The Lady Tigers allowed just 30 goals in 22 matches, and 13 of those were in the first four matches against state powers, including a nationally-ranked Penn side. Warsaw’s ability to also create offensive from the back, to which Harvey found the net three times and the defense as a whole scored 30 points (11 goals, 8 assists), the team has the ability to beat you 10 different ways. A lot of the teams in the area would beg for half that.
“I’m so excited for this season,” said Harvey, who will man the back with classmates Anna Grill and Olivia Herman. “We have a really unique group, and I’m biased when I say it, but I do seriously think we have something special. The work ethic that all of us have is unbelievable.”
Second-year head coach Jon Hoover was blessed to take over an already-made program, but feels this 2018 outfit could be one of the best Warsaw has ever seen. The team lost just three seniors with any sizeable experience, and return nearly 95 percent of its scoring. Combine that with the return of netminder Kaylee Patton, who as a freshman was a starter in net and returns after a year off to replace departed graduate Chloe Snow, and Warsaw is what many would call ‘loaded’.
“This group really excites me because we are very balanced,” Hoover said, who was 14-5-3 in his first season. “We have a freshman group coming in that really know how to play, and actually play in a way that I enjoy watching. Seeing the group last year possess the ball well, and now with these freshmen coming in that look natural out there in style, this group could be as balanced as Warsaw has had. We have players who are starting to play the game that is very enjoyable to watch.”
While the defense has been excellent, playing the schedule Warsaw does – which includes Noblesville, Homestead and Penn among others – scoring came in bunches. Abby Steffensmeier is rapidly approaching all-time status, having scored 43 goals in two seasons, 28 of those coming last year, which was two off the school record. Brenna Buhrt, another junior, tallied a hat trick to beat Huntington North in the sectional championship and had 16 goals and 13 assists on the year. Another junior, Delaney Taylor, became the facilitator and racked up 18 assists to go with nine goals after recording 19 goals and 14 assists as a rookie.
Seniors Anna Sullivan (3 goals/6 assists) and Grill (7/8) along with sophomore Gracie Scholl (4/3) also had major roles in the attack.
Hoover is also very excited at the prospects of a pair of incoming freshmen in Tes Berelsman and Corissa Koontz, who have lit the club circuits and enter Warsaw with a chance to start right away on varsity.
“We have a lineup of girls right now that are soccer players, ones that aren’t defined by a position,” Hoover said. “Delaney was a forward who moved to midfield. Anna Grill is moving to defense from midfield. Brenna Buhrt can play any of the 10 positions on the field and be excellent at it. It’s neat to see these players who are adaptable and understand that great things can happen on any part of the field, not just where they expect it to happen.”
The Lady Tigers open the season Monday night in hosting Fort Wayne Carroll at 7:15 p.m.