MOUNT CARMEL — It will be a season of firsts for the Mount Carmel Golden Aces’ girls’ soccer team as they begin their inaugural season Saturday on the road in Harrisburg.
“We’re very excited,” said Lady Aces’ head coach Ed Berberich. “For a lot of these ladies, it will be the first time out on a big field playing 11v11 soccer. Some will be their first time at all.
“We’re expecting to have some things we’re going to need to work on. With the nature of spring soccer, you’re inside a lot which is more constrained, and the ball is harder to control. You’re limited to what you can work on. This first game will be a real test to see where we’re at and what we need to work on. We’ll be able to focus some things after that.”
The Lady Aces have 12 seniors on the team, which Berberich says is the foundation for the new program.
“They’re a big part of this program,” said Berberich. “In fact, it was a lot of the older girls that came to us wanting to start the program. Without them, this probably wouldn’t have happened. They definitely took the lead in getting heard that they would like to have a team. They’re laying the groundwork for whatever comes after this.
The rest of the team’s breakdown by class includes six juniors, two sophomores, and four freshmen.
“We have a lot of numbers this year, but we’ll lose all those seniors,” said Berberich. “We definitely want to keep trying to get younger players out here. We’ll need them to keep going, and it’s good to have those players to develop throughout the years.
“We want girls playing soccer. The more the better. That’s the way I look at it. We’re happy with having that many players and that range of experience and skill level. I’m just glad to see Ladies coming out here wanting to try something new for the ones doing something new.”
With it being a new team, Berberich is holding to the adage of keeping it simple. The team will start out in a 4-4-2 formation which includes for defensive backs, four midfielders, and two attackers.
“We’ll start with that and add some wrinkles throughout the season,” said Berberich. “To start it’s going to be very vanilla in terms of the formation. It’s exciting because whatever we decide to do, behind around talent-wise, is as good as anything else. We’re not really wed to one particular formation or anything.”
Berberich says he wants to establish a style of play and get the team’s skill level up to where they possess the ball and keep possession of the ball more.
The Aces will have senior Hannah Wilson as keeper. Berberich says she stepped up right away and wanted the job between the posts.
“She said she wanted to play goalie from the first day, which it takes a different bred to play goalie and she wants to be in there,” said Berberich. “We’ve been in there working with her.”
Freshman Allison Thread will serve as her backup and play goalie during junior varsity games.
Kendall Thompson has played soccer before so she will be one of the players will rely on for the experience factor on the field.
“She [Thompson] has played a lot of center-back and Carmi Morris has played defense,” said Berberich. “We’re probably looking at having them at the two center-back spots. We have a couple seniors [Ellie McIntire and Darian Neu] that haven’t played for me … but they’re very fast and very aggressive.”
Berberich adds that McIntire and Neu will probably start out as forwards but adds that the one thing he likes to do is mix it up and give players a chance to experiment with other positions.
“Everything is subject to change,” said Berberich. “As much as possible I like to move players around the field… to get them that experience, especially the younger ones. We’ll work with all of them to make soccer players out of them first and then slot them in where we need them.”
With a roster of 24 players ready to compete for the first time on the soccer pitch, Berberich says he plans to utilize all players, whether it’s in a varsity of a junior varsity contest.
“We’ll have plenty of kids to keep putting out there as soon as someone starts raising their hand or doubling over, we’ll be able to throw someone in there,” said Berberich. “We have  players that aren’t quite in soccer shape right now, through no fault of their own, just because it’s hard to get out and get in shape in January and February. We’re going to be able to use them all and get them out there.”
The team will play approximately 10 games this season with two being at home. Their first home game will be on Saturday, March 24 against Mt. Vernon (IL) at 11 a.m.. Senior night will be Thursday, April 12 at 4:30 p.m. against Richland County.
Contact Register Sports Editor Paul Wilcoxen at (618) 263-1004, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @paulwilcoxen