PELLA — Mike Buchheit has been building up the Pella Christian girls soccer program for the last several years. He enters his seventh season leading the Eagles after coming off of a trip to the regional finals in 2019.
After seven straight seasons with a losing record, PC had a group of seniors going into the 2020 season that went 15-5 as freshmen, 8-8 as sophomores and 10-9 as juniors. Now that group as moved on after missing out on their senior season due to COVID-19.
A new group will look to pick up where they left off with six returners on the roster this season. Those returnees are seniors Ellie Brouwer, Tessa Brouwer and Katherine Wielard along with juniors Sarah Gritters, Emily Sytsma and Lydia Zylstra.
Both Ellie and Tessa Brouwer started as sophomores and bring good varsity experience as both scored two goals in 2019. Gritters only played in eight games but also scored one goal.
Zylstra nabbed the starting keeper job as freshman and finished with a 75.3% save percentage. Now a junior, Buchheit has been very impressed with his keeper and expects a big year from Zylstra.
“All six returners will need to contribute to team success, especially early in the season until we can put together some additional options,” Buchheit said.
Buchheit also expects a couple of underclassmen to step in right away and make an impact in sophomores Jenna Edel, Joslyn Terpstra and freshman Jaclyn Holmes.
Depth and experience will be a challenge along with several other teams experiencing the same potential issues early in the season. PC returnees have only scored a total of six goals and one assist in their entire varsity careers, so expect several girls to try and settle into their new roles this season.
“I can already sense the open minded spirit that surrounds this group of girls,” Buchheit said. “They are also buying into each other quickly and learning to love and support one another as much as they want to see themselves succeed. I truly feel that we will see an impressive improvement from early in the season until late in the season both defensively as well as offensively in what we want to accomplish.”