Niles soccer team gaining confidence

Published 12:11 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Whether it was the weather or the format or the trophy on the line, Niles came through Saturday, May 14, with two victories and won the VanDenBerg Invitational girls soccer championship.

After beating Buchanan 2-1 on in a wet and windy first round morning match at Niles, the traveled across town to earn a 2-1 win against Brandywine for the tournament.

It was the second tournament title in the past three years for coach Katie Czirr’s Lady Vikings (3-8).

Two Niles captains — junior defender Jaycee Myer and senior midfielder Chelsea Best — and the coach talked about the accomplishment.

“We marked up really well today,” said Myer, who was paired in the middle of the defense with sophomore Delayne Mudd, who took turns guarding swift Bobcats forward Jaleesa Garner and other Brandywine attackers. “With the speed that Brandywine and Buchanan have, we had to be sure to stay goal side. We worked the ball through the back line.”

Myer has noticed a progression to the 2016 season for the Vikings.

“We’re definitely growing in confidence. That was the biggest thing in the beginning. And we’re making more runs and playing more strategic than we have in past years.”

After the Brandywine match, Czirr talked about those tactics.

“We did a really good job of working the ball to the outside and feeding it back in,” Czirr said. “Overall, we do a very nice job of tightening up in our back line. A lot of times we can pull in off-side traps which work beautifully for us.

“Today, we were really able to capitalize using our space in the field and getting our wide midfielders (Chelsea Best, Mackenzie Hall, Ashley Thompson and Jenny Walters) out wide.”

Best assisted on the first Niles goal in each tournament match, feeding junior midfielder Emily Gaines in each instance.

“I was glad my teammate were able to go to the goal and finish on it,” Best said.

The match was again played with a temperature around 40 (not counting the wind chill) and that suited the Vikings just fine.

“Heat does not do well with us,” Best said. “I’m glad it was colder and a little windy today.”

For the record, last year’s event won by Buchanan, was played in very muggy and warm conditions.

Looking ahead to the stretch run of the season, Best echoed her fellow captain about playing with confidence.

“We just have to step it up,” Best said. “We’ve got to want it.”