Reloading produces results
There’s a saying in sports about teams that are perennially successful: they don’t rebuild, they reload.
That’s exactly what the Parkland girls soccer team has done. Young players are getting a chance to play this season and they’ve instantly stepped up to keep the team at the top of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference standings.
With just two seniors on the roster – Regan Allsop and Jenn Guetzlaff – young players have helped fill out the starting lineup. One of those young players is Brooke Schutter, who has led the team in goals this season with 13. Schutter, a sophomore, has already locked up her college plans, committing verbally to Duquesne University. With those plans out of the way, Schutter is concentrating solely on improving individually so she can help her team reach its goals.
“Now, I can just focus on what I need to do to get better, so I can be my best going in there,” said Schutter. “I just want to keep improving on my shot and my speed going forward, become a leader on the team and a better player all around.”
Schutter has contributed to the team since she played as a freshman last season and has made a strong impact even though she doesn’t have the varsity experience of some of the older players. Coming onto the team and helping from day one is how Schutter always imagined her college career going.
“That was my goal, to be able to come in and have an impact and be able to help out all the girls and do my best to make an impact on the team at a young age,” said Schutter, who says the team is determined to make a run at states this season after losing in districts last year.
Most coaches like to develop young talent, but Trojan coach Al Haddad takes a slightly different approach to developing his underclassmen. Haddad allows young players to get on the job training and not just when his team has opened up a big lead.
“It’s very important, because we’re never rebuilding,” said Haddad. “I tell my seniors, ‘up until your senior year, you may be playing 80 minutes, but don’t expect to play 80 minutes in your senior year, because you don’t come back for me. I need to pull you out to give those younger kids a lot of experience.’
“In these early games, we try to give our younger players experience during 0-0 games where they know that their mistake can cost us. That way, they’re learning versus going in at 4-0 and it’s ‘OK, big deal.’ It’s really important that we try to manage that so that we’re never rebuilding.”
While the seniors are greatly outnumbered on the team, that doesn’t mean that they can’t compete and help the team in big ways. Goalkeeper Regan Allsop is one of the better goalies in the EPC, but you might not know it, because she doesn’t always get challenged enough to show off her skills. Guetzlaff also provided leadership and defensive skills that allow Parkland (8-0) to shut down even high scoring teams.
“We pride ourselves so that teams don’t get a lot of shots on goal,” said Haddad. “That’s the attitude that our defense likes to take, that they don’t just want a shutout, they want no shots.
“She [Allsop] gets tested plenty in practice with the forward linemen that we have. Every day, the four of them are shooting on goal, so that’s going to continue to help us be sharper around that area of the field.”
The leadership aspect also can’t be discounted and Schutter was quick to provide compliments to the seniors, who have helped her and other players on the team develop.
“They’re really good leaders for our team. Regan is great in the back and so is Jen and they really help out a lot,” said Schutter.