Arcadia girls soccer welcomes new faces as it takes on new challenges for 2019

Junior defender Kayla Walshire (9) (Photo Courtesy of Arcadia Girls Soccer)

It’s that time of year when the football season yields to the other kind of futból.

The Arcadia varsity girls soccer team recently took the field in a friendly scrimmage against Notre Dame Preparatory to kick off its season.

While the final score of 2-2 doesn’t matter in the ultimate battle for points towards playoffs, the match illuminated how the usual playoff-bound Arcadia is dealing with some major changes to both its lineup and schedule.

On the personnel side, the girls have some big shoes to fill this year. Both the top goal scorer, Kalena Teufel, and dominant center back, Dominque Ballard, graduated last spring. Not to mention that they were both honored on the All-City team.

“It’s a very different team than we’ve had in the past few years,” Arcadia Head Coach Adam Zweiback said. “I think it was wonderful to see people step up.”

Taking over the position of the center back is freshman Izzy King. They managed to hold their own against the strong NDP offense, but there was still an aspect of inexperience — especially when it comes to defending against long passes behind the defensive line.

When asked about the area of improvement for the team, goalie Mackey Massingale and midfielder Abby Ford — both juniors — said defense needed the most work.

“The new girls are going to improve, they just haven’t gotten to know our style yet, so it’s exciting to see that they will adapt to that,” Massingale said.

Junior midfielder Mikey Regas (2) (Photo Courtesy of Arcadia Girl’s Soccer)

When looking at the other side of the field, the offense for the Titans continued to show the connectivity that they are known for. Passes between the midfielders and forwards created triangles that led to opportunities. The majority of offensive attacks that made it within the box, however, were squandered.

For the Titans, there is no clear replacement for Teufel, but that could be a blessing in disguise. In previous years, the burden was laid heavily on Teufel to execute and score goals. Now, Arcadia can vary its attackers, therefore creating opportunities and eventually goals.

Another speed bump in the Titans season is the change of division. During the off season, Arcadia was reassigned to Division 4A instead of 5A, which means completely different competition.

Although some match-ups will stay the same — such as Chaparral — the Titans will now have to face teams like Bradshaw Mountain for the first time.

“When you look at the top five or six teams in 4A, they are just as strong as the top five teams in 5A. You got Salpointe Catholic that’s won back-to-back state titles, and they were in the state championship game in Division 5A,” Coach Zweiback said.

“I think at the top it’s very strong, it probably doesn’t have the depth that 5A does, but we will definitely have some fantastic competition.”

While personnel and division changes are not easy to navigate, the biggest hurdle Arcadia has to jump over this season is the influence of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

The Development Academy is a program that looks to improve long-term player and coach development, and has no bias, distractions, self-interests, or financial gains that may hurt the player, according to its website.

Unlike most club programs, the DA doesn’t go dark during the high school season, where players no longer compete with clubs in order to participate in their school program.

The season for the DA goes from September until July and the program started in 2017, which means the effects of players opting out of high school competition to join the DA are just starting to hit.

Gabrielle Ballard, Dominque’s sister, who was on the Arcadia team last season is now playing with the DA and no longer with the Titans.

Schools across the division are losing players to the DA, according to multiple girls on the Titans.

But Arcadia is determined not to let changes in personnel, whether from graduation or the DA, and even the division affect its drive towards playoffs.

“It’s definitely going to be a little challenging, but we are going to work our butts off,” Ford said.

The Arcadia soccer team starts its season 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 with a home match against Bradshaw Mountain.

Editor’s note: Sarandon Raboin is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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