Published Thu, Aug 30, 2012 2:40 pm Dateline
Grace Campbell, a central defender, fulfills her role by stopping fast breaks and reducing the strains on goalie Mattie Liston. Holly Harris responds, as a forward, by switching the field advantage and attacking the opposing goal.
That part’s easy. Campbell was a four-year letter winner at Wadsworth, while Harris had 93 goals in her high school career. The two have been playing in their respective positions for almost their entire careers.
The hardest transition the two girls have made so far this season has been the jump from the high school competition to the collegiate level.
“It’s been really difficult from the high school aspect, but since I played club, it’s a lot better,” Harris said. “Compared to high school, it’s a lot more competitive and everyone knows what they’re doing.”
In spite of the growing pains, Coach Stacey Strauss has started three freshmen so far this season with Campbell starting all five games. Strauss has been impressed with how quickly the girls have been able to pick up the system and grow into leaders at their positions.
“It’s pretty difficult to be thrown into a leadership role straight away and not only have to play well, but be responsible for the good players around you,” Strauss said. “I couldn’t ask anything more from (Grace).”
The always-humble Campbell couldn’t take credit for her quick transition to the game.
“The girls have been very helpful, and our coach is understanding and meets with us regularly,” Campbell said. “Everyone is very understanding that we’re still trying to get the handle of things.”
Both Campbell and Harris were quick to point out seniors Veronica Rock and Paige Howard as the leaders in the locker room, a place where team chemistry builds beyond the field.
“During the preseason, my first day there, we had a fitness test, and I didn’t know any of the upperclassmen. Paige took me under her wing and was like, ‘We’re going to get through this fitness test,’” Harris said. “Having someone root you on is a huge thing. It was awesome.”
Ohio has started off 1-3 this season, but the season, like their roster, is still young.
“I think we have a lot to work on, but we definitely have potential and a very good team,” Campbell said. “We have to make sure we play to our strengths and we’ll be very good.”
The freshmen’s ability to start immediately without taking a step back gives Strauss several options on her roster. There are a total of eight true freshmen on this year’s team, and as they continue to grow, the team does also.
“I think it’s great that they are able to get that experience now, and they are only going to continue to get better as they win and grow,” Strauss said. “It certainly means that the future is bright for this fall and years to come.”