While the Mississinewa Indians only finished with four wins a season ago, they were a much better team than their 2018 record indicated.
Despite one of their top players missing most of the season due to various ailments and fielding a team that did not possess much soccer experience coming in, the Indians made tremendous strides in 2018, improving drastically as the season progressed and forming a solid nucleus of talent.
With a strong returning group, coupled with an exciting group of freshmen, the Indians are positioned to rise in 2019.
“I really feel like this is going to be a real big stepping stone in Mississinewa soccer,” Wilson said. “We do have a lot of incoming players that have a lot of soccer knowledge. Last year, I had 14 players that had never played before, so to add three or four players that have soccer knowledge, that’s huge for me.”
Over the past few seasons, the Indians have been a group that, while extremely talented and athletic, were new to the game of soccer. This year, it is a completely different feel. Not only did everyone improve, additionally, Mississinewa’s freshmen, which include Lia Luchetti, Audrey Spencer, and Jayden Guy, all bring a plethora of soccer experience to the Indians’ program.
“This summer, we’ve had more girls showing up to open fields than we ever have before,” Wilson said. “They want to learn, they want to get better, and they want to push their teammates. It’s been a really good summer for us.”
Luchetti and Spencer are both gifted offensive players and will look to provide much needed scoring alongside a healthy Alayna Webb and an ever-improving Taylor Ulerick.
“Lia Luchetti and Audrey Spencer…they’ve been playing soccer their whole lives. It’s really nice because with Mississinewa, we tend to have a lot of kids come on who haven’t played before. That’s fine – they’re athletic and all that great stuff – but it’s really nice to have a couple of girls come in who are really soccer solid.”
“I look for Lia to be a really big asset to us up top. She has really good ball control. She has played for our junior high team. She does a lot of scoring and is really great [at] passing. Audrey also has really good ball control and is really good at knowing who is open around her, getting them the ball, and then, moving to where she needs to be so she can still be in the play. They both have really good soccer knowledge, and they see the field well. I’m real excited about both of them.”
While Luchetti and Spencer are both excellent additions, having Webb back at full strength is monumental for the Indians’ success. A dynamic player, particularly on the offensive side of the pitch, she just could not stay on the field last season. Now, Webb has a clean bill of health, and is ready for a bounce-back junior season.
“That was really tough for us,” Wilson said of Webb’s injuries. “But she has been healthy all summer, so we are really hoping we have her the entire season, because she makes a huge difference in our team, on and off the field. I look for Alayna to put up some big numbers in the goal this year. Her and Lia, they work so well together – passing wise, knowing where each other were, switching positions – it’s pretty exciting.”
While she comes into the season without any soccer experience, freshman Savannah Herrera will serve as the Indians’ primary goalkeeper in 2019. Wilson has been impressed with her progression throughout the summer and believes her softball background will serve her well in net.
“She’s been working on goal since the spring,” Wilson said. “She’s done really well. She’s going to continue to improve. I’m really excited about that, also.”
Laekyn Emmons and Amiah Lewis, two of the Indians’ most seasoned players, will once again anchor the defense, together with Guy.
“They continue to get better and better,” Wilson said. “[All] of them worked on their skills all summer and all winter, and their soccer knowledge continues to improve.”
After a great summer of preparation, and a lot of personal growth and development, the Indians have all the pieces in place for a successful 2019 campaign.
“I would like to have a winning season,” Wilson said. “My hope this year is to start out strong, remain strong, and continue to improve as the season goes on.”