With a significant portion of the Trojans offense gone, the Trojans are expecting the defense to step up this season. Sydney Sladek was the lead scorer last season with 75 goals and that amounted to 53 percent of the offense. The next best scorer the Trojans had was Paige Chafee, who is a junior and had 12 goals. She is returning. The Trojans hope to replace the talent lost with new talent coming in, but until that new talent has a chance to adjust to new teammates, the veterans on defense will be the glue that holds the team together.
The Trojans girls team have a strong tradition of tough defenses and this year is no different. The Trojans defense will have Brittany Klenczar and Alyssa Turner in the backfield. These two veterans just traveled back East to play in a national club soccer tournament and are both seniors. The two are more than up for the job and have been playing so long together that people mistake them for sisters.
“We lost a lot of good players, but we also have a lot of good players coming up. Jaimie (Murphy) and Maddy (Pereira) are coming up and they both can play defense. I think our offense will change more than our defense. The girls coming up play club too and the more we play together and pass together I think they will fit in. They will get the hang of it and fit in because we all work so hard together,” Klenczar said.
Turner agreed. “The biggest change will be that we played with the girls that left for so long (The Trojans graduated 7 seniors last year). There was such a connection. We won the games that we did and had so much flow. We practice in club every day so we will get the connection again. The new girls are hardworking and are willing. I think we will make it to state again,” Turner said.
Having to fill the positions that have left the team will be the job of Trojans Coach Pam Larmouth, who has been through this before after each state championship she has won. Of course, the job does not get easier.
Klenczar said Sydney Sladek and Lexi Smith put so much dedication and heart into what they did that their hard work inspired her to do better. “The fact that they are leaving, that is big shoes to fill for us. We know we have to step it up. Those girls are really hard workers,” she remarked.
Turner believes the confidence factor on the remaining girls is high. Most of the core girls played club soccer during the summer and this allowed Turner to talk to Sladek and some other college-bound players. “They know we can do it. I played with them for so many years that I want to make them proud. They were my inspiration for so many years,” Turner said.
The nationals was a great experience for the girls and both Turner and Klenczar hope the experience has given them the needed exposure they need to get a scholarship. Klenczar said she will also be emailing coaches to inform them that she went to nationals. “We wanted to go to camps this summer, (individual college camps) but nationals got in the way. If there are camps between now and school, we will go. We have been told to email the college coaches and let them know we are going to nationals and let them know where they can see us,” she told the PVT.
The team will be heavy in juniors this year. According to Joe Sladek, he will be taking a back seat to coaching the high school team this year so he can watch his daughter Sydney play at USC.
Even without Joe always on the sideline, Turner and Klenczar believe that the staff has enough knowledge to continue the team’s winning tradition.
The girls came out all summer to get in shape. “During the summer the intensity is still there and the girls are working harder. Joe pushed us even more. Quickness is the important thing and we are working hard on that,” Klenczar said.
Over the summer there were over 20 girls working on conditioning with the team. Even though tryouts are not until another week or so, Turner said she has a good idea which incoming girls will make the team based on efforts already made. “The first impression for summer conditioning is who actually showed up. Who does all the laps and shows up all the time. So I think we kind of have a good idea what the team will be like,” she said.
Faith Lutheran lost 6 seniors last year, two midfielders, two defenders and two forwards. Of note, Faith lost Dani Tharaldson who scored 30 goals for the team last year. She will be replaced by Kristi Chinn who scored 25. They will continue to be a threat and Turner and Klenczar said the team will always be up for Faith. “Since we know they are Faith, our adrenaline pumps up and we work ten times harder. I think though that we will do that with every team because we have to prove to ourselves that we are the best team. We are extremely competitive against Faith,” Turner said.