With the departure of five senior starters from last year’s state quarterfinal team, the Grain Valley girls soccer team has to depend on a few younger players to help contribute.
Two returning starters in Rylan Childers and Kailey Boyer did their part in a 10-0 mercy-rule victory against Warrensburg Friday night at Moody Murray Memorial Field, combining for six goals and four assists.
“There wasn’t much of an attack on us, so it was easy to work in the back,” Childers said.
But there is another player who dazzled fans. In fact, it was a freshman. Avery Bradley displayed her superb ball handling skills at the midfielder position, dishing out two assists and scoring the team’s seventh goal when she received a pass, dribbled it to the right wing and drilled a shot inside the far post.
“She’s going to be a top, top player,” Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol said. “She’s a very strong player. We’re excited to have her. She’s going to be an everyday starter for sure.”
The Eagles are starting another freshman in goal. Raegan Beeding had a flawless night, stopping the only shot attempt that came on goal. Along with those two freshmen, Nichol will depend heavily on juniors.
“We do have a lot of experience,” Nichol said. “We’re definitely a junior-heavy squad. We’re missing some of those old faces from last year, which was a good chunk of our team, but we’re still excited about this team.
Childers will be one of those. She scored four goals and dished out two assists in this one, including a sliding kick in front of the goal mouth off a corner kick from Maddie Knust. Last year, she scored a state record 5.2 goals per game and set a school record with 51 goals in a season, breaking a previous record shared by herself and sister Raegan. A year ago, she was primarily a striker in the midfield, but will play some center midfielder this season as well.
She’ll have plenty of help, too. Boyer and Brady are a couple of playmakers who can help out and Marissa Schmitt was a second-team all stater last season and figures to be a huge factor on offense, as well.
“We have a really good attacking line,” Childers said. “We like to get forward and finish as much as we can.”
Added Boyer: “It’s been a little bit of an adjustment for me. I am used to being in the center but he has me out wide this year. I feel like we’ll work together and connect on a lot of passes.”
This game served as a confidence builder for the Eagles (1-0) going into the Platte County Invitational, which will feature some bigger Class 4 schools. The Eagles meet host Platte County at 1 p.m. Saturday to start the tournament.
In fact, Nichol said he purposely made this year’s non-conference schedule tougher to better prepare his team for the playoffs. He added teams like powerhouse Lee’s Summit North and Webster Groves along with Class 4 Liberty North and district rival Kearney.
“It’s nice to play one game before that because that will be a tough tournament,” Nichol said of the Platte County Invitational. “I think the schedule will benefit us. If you look at the boys side, we’re not going to the final four with a 25-2 record like other teams. We have six or seven losses because we test ourselves. For this team, that’s the path we have to take so we’re ready for those game at the end of the year.”
Schmitt added a goal and an assist Haley Hunter had a goal. The game ended with about 30 minutes left on the 10-goal mercy rule.