High school girls soccer: Things were looking up at East
By Mike London
East Rowan girls soccer
Coach: Nermin Hodzic (2nd year, 1-17-1)
East in the last 5 years: 16-79-2
2019 record: 1-17-1 overall, 0-10 North Piedmont Conference (6th place)
2020 record: 0-3
Seniors: Adalie Harrison, Kamden Johnson, Brooke Kongmany, Hannah Brady, Bailey Walker
GRANITE QUARRY— Injuries had knocked out three of East Rowan’s returning players (Lauren Trayah, Bailey Walker and Elizabeth Avalos) for the season, but second-year coach Nermin Hodzic was optimistic about the progress his team was making.
Play was stopped in mid-March due to COVID-19 concerns, but East had scored four goals in its first three games. The Mustangs scored only nine in the entire 2019 season.
“We were creating a lot more scoring opportunities,” Hodzic said. “This is a great group of girls. We’re so young, with 14 new players, but it’s a coachable, hard-working group. I was looking forward to seeing how much we could improve over the course of this season, and I do believe we were going to compete with a lot of teams. I didn’t want people to get caught up in the number of wins we had. You have to run a race before you can win a race. If everyone keeps working and improving their skills, the wins will come.”
East scored three goals (in a 6-3 loss) against a South Rowan team that started the season with five straight wins. That was encouraging.
Hodzic has seven freshmen and six sophomores on the roster.
“It was an adjustment for those young players, as the speed and physicality of varsity soccer isn’t comparable to what they saw in middle school,” Hodzic said.
East had gotten a lift from senior Adalie Harrison, who was playing soccer for the first time. A star in cross country (fall) and basketball (winter), Harrison also was excelling in track and field when that season was halted, as well.
“I had an opportunity to help coach Adalie in cross country, saw the speed and knew she could help our soccer program,” Hodzic said. “She’d not only scored two goals in three games, she’d created eight to 10 shots. She was close to scoring a lot more goals. She’s inexperienced, she was still learning awareness in front of the goal, but she was making a huge impact for a first-year player.”
East also had received a boost from comebacks by seniors Kamden Johnson and Brooke Kongmany. They played for East as sophomores, but didn’t play as juniors.
Freshman Lindsey Cook was making a name for herself. She had two goals and an assist in the South game.
“She reads the field really well for a young player and has outstanding vision,” Hodzic said. “She’s going to be someone we can build off of as she grows and matures. There’s a lot of ability there.”
Other leaders for East in the early going included sophomore captains Morrigan Wilhelm, who scored three goals in 2019, and Alix Vasquez.
“They were voted captains by their teammates,” Hodzic said. “Those are girls who give all they have every time they’re on the field.”
Hodzic said junior Lydia Miller, the returning starter, and sophomore Mary Spry, both familiar names from the basketball court, had been battling for goalkeeper duties until Spry suffered a concussion during a 2-1 loss to West Stanly.
Like most of his fellow coaches, Hodzic is still hoping that spring sports can resume at some point.
He’s sending film to his players, so they can take a look at mistakes that were made and learn from them.
“I believe our ceiling was much higher this season, and I believe we can be a good team in a few years,” Hodzic said. “But I’m sad that we’re not getting to learn from playing matches right now. We need the experience.”
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