Garner girls soccer coach Jennifer Enyeart offers three adjectives when describing her underclassman-dominated forward group – young, small and fast.
Certainly, speed is an asset on the soccer field, but youth and lack of size usually translates into a lack of success on the girls varsity soccer level.
But that hasn’t been the case at Garner, where freshmen Olivia Stoltz, Anna Grossheim and Riley Frechette have made an instant impact up front this spring. Add the talents of the “veterans” Morgan Thomas (a sophomore) and Kasey Adams (a junior), and Enyeart boasts one of the area’s most potent, deep and balanced scoring units.
“We still are working on possessing the ball, but we have very good quick-strike ability,” Enyeart said. “We have the speed. At this point, our younger girls just need to know that they can turn and go and beat a defender.”
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The freshmen have also brought a youthful enthusiasm to a team that that finished second in the Greater Neuse River Conference last year – and seems poised for another strong finish this time around.
“We have better chemistry than we did last season,” said junior Laurl Fright, who has been known to join the offensive rush from her midfield position. “That chemistry has been better on and off the field, and the freshmen have played a pivotal role in that. I really like what we have done so far.”
Thomas currently leads the Trojans with five goals, while Grossheim and Adams have chipped in with four goals apiece.
“We all came from different middle schools, so we didn’t really know each other very well,” Thomas said. “But the way we fought in the Cary Academy game (a season-opening 3-3 tie) – I think that showed me what we were capable of. Then we beat (league-leading) Clayton, and that was big for us. Right now, we just need to work on consistency and confidence.”
Enyeart has a soft spot for her undersized players, as she overcame a lack of size to star for the Trojans in the early 2000s. Her sister, Meagan Proper, also excelled at Garner before playing at N.C. State.
Enyeart taught in Johnston County and was an assistant at Corinth Holders – all the while hoping for a chance to return to her alma mater. That opportunity presented itself before the 2015-16 school year.
“It was great to be able to come back home,” Enyeart said. “I was waiting for a math position to open up at Garner, and it finally did. Garner people – we are loyal to our community. ... We had only two seniors last year and have only two this year. So it’s kind of nice to come in, work with young players and kind of shape the program the way you want to. This has been a good way to jump in for me.”