There’s getting your first win of the season. And then there’s furiously breaking down the door to the win column.
The Delco Christian’s girls soccer team opted for the latter Thursday.
After four setbacks to begin the season, Bill Neef’s young squad emphatically opened its account with a 10-0 win over Girard College.
Kailey Neef and Julia Kyne continued their offensively prolific starts to the season with three goals and three assists each. Lauren Nelson, Brenna Richards, Kirsten Rasmussen and Melanie Reiter also tallied for Delco Christian.
It was the first reward on the young season for a team that has been through more than its fair share of turmoil. Perhaps the youngest squad in the area, the Knights are starting four freshmen and have a completely rebuilt backline.
Look no further than the anatomy of Thursday’s win. You’ve got Neef, a freshman, who has five of the team’s 14 goals this season and has been the heartbeat of the Knights’ offense with her outstanding vision of the pitch. Kyne, essentially a veteran as just a sophomore, has another five markers. Richards is another member of the freshman class that is being so heavily leaned upon, and Nelson is a converted centerback being forced to play forward.
It’s no surprise then that Bill Neef realizes that his team “has to be workaholics” to get results like Thursday’s.
In addition to several expected contributors who didn’t return for this season for a variety of reasons, the injury bug hasn’t done Delco Christian any favors. Among those falling victim are projected starting centerback Analeigh Crisanti, who’s just returning from a concussion, and left back Neily Thompson, sidelined for the season with a torn ACL. It’s into the problems Coach Neef has had this season, as he admittedly has struggled at times to piece together a starting 11 much less filling out a bench of players with experience.
“Part of the problem is that I thought coming into the season that I’d have 33 players,” Neef said. “We ended up with 19. … We’ve had to revamp and reorganize. But we’re making better progress and continuing to improve. Everyone is learning to work as a team and learning to overcome.”
It’s a rough start for a team that harbored aspirations of a District One Class A title entering the season. The way the Knights had lost their previous two games, surrendering early leads against Faith Christian and New Hope-Solebury, didn’t do much for the confidence factor either.
While a win over Girard College isn’t exactly the first thing the Knights will put on their résumé come District time, that hardly diminishes the benefits. For one, coach Neef had the chance to experiment with his tactics in game situations that just can’t be replicated, even if in-season practice time wasn’t as limited as it is, working in some of the younger, less experienced players on a thin bench that he may have to rely on down the road.
More immediately, the victory will bolster the team’s confidence and belief that the hard work they’ve put in is paying off.
“It’s a first win,” Bill Neef said. “We can build on that. Regardless of who it’s against, a win is a win.”