Learning to lead: Sophomores take on bigger role for Black Knights
For most soccer players the transition from junior high to varsity soccer is a big one.
For Towanda's Julia Lambert, Lauren Risch and the other freshmen last year the transition was even tougher after the school didn't have a junior high team their eighth-grade year.
"We learned a lot last year," Risch said. "It was a different environment after not having junior high soccer going into high school."
While the girls did play youth soccer while they were in junior high, it was a big adjustment going to the varsity level.
"It was more competition," Lambert said.
"We didn't get to play the older kids with that," Risch said.
The other big adjustment was just getting used to everyone on the field. While Risch and Lambert played youth soccer together in eighth grade, not every incoming freshman was on the team with them.
"Last year helped us as a team a lot," Risch said. "It helped us bond more."
While they were making the transition to high school the girls instantly found themselves in the starting lineup.
That experience last year has made things better for them this year.
"It's a lot easier now," Lambert said.
While they might just be sophomores, the two now find themselves as key members of the Black Knights.
"It is tough, there is a lot of pressure for us to step up," Lambert said.
Just one year after they were learning the varsity game the two girls now find themselves helping some of the younger players.
"It's really weird," Lambert said. "Most or our team is pretty young. They are all stepping up."
"We do a lot of coaching on the field now," Risch said.
While Lambert and Risch are natural midfielders, because of injuries and depth on the roster the two have had to play all over the field at times.
"It is different, (coach) Dave (Jurnack) tells us to play any position," Risch said.
"I played mostly midfield last year and now I have to switch to defense and offense and I have to get used to that," Lambert said.
One of the challenges for the two is going from defense one minute to trying to score on offense the next.
"You have to change your mindset," Risch said. "You have to change from trying to stop or control the ball to trying to score."
The Black Knights have struggled at times with the young roster and that has led to some tough losses.,
However, neither girl is letting themselves, or their team, think about the bad games.
"It's a busy schedule, you don't have time to get down about it, you have to get ready for the next game," Risch said.
"We just try and stay positive," Lambert added.
The two know that with a lot of freshmen and sophomores earning playing time they will only continue to learn playing against the older opponents.
"It's a good learning experience for us," Risch said.
With two more years left in high school the two believe that the future will be bright for the Black Knights.
"I think we will end up doing really good," Lambert said.