MARION — Normally, low roster numbers and a bunch of freshmen on the field spells trouble.
For the Marion girls’ soccer team, it appears to be the makings of a tight-knit, talented unit.
“This is an exciting team,” Marion Coach Erik Trilk said after the Class 2A 13th-ranked Indians defeated Solon for the first time in school history, 4-0, in a Wamac Conference game Tuesday at Marion High School. “This is the smallest team that I think we’ve ever had at Marion. This ninth-grade class is really talented and really helping this team a lot.”
Four freshmen played all 80 minutes for Marion (2-0, 2-0 Wamac) and a fifth saw considerable time.
Freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Fuller got the Indians on the scoreboard in the ninth minute. Her perfectly-placed free kick from 65 feet away drifted over the Solon defensive wall just beyond the outstretched hand of the goalkeeper.
“It’s nice knowing that there are other people who are kind of in my shoes and new to all of this,” said Fuller, who pushed the Marion lead to 3-0 with a strike in the 60th minute. “Kind of, honestly, a little bit scared because high school ball is a lot different from club ball.”
Other freshman standouts included Morgan Hangartner, who supplied some rugged defense and Grace Coates, whose ability to split the opposing defense with strength and athleticism made her an offensive catalyst.
“They’re fun to watch,” Trilk said. “They like to come out and compete.”
That is not to say Marion lacks for experience. The Indians return two 2A all-state performers in midfielder Mia Laube (first team) and goalkeeper Grace Byers (honorable mention).
Junior forward Naomi Smith is also back after leading Marion with 15 goals in 15 games last season.
“This is the tightest team that I have been on,” Smith said. “We’re all just really close. We joke around, we’re all hanging out, always talking. I think the confidence level comes from us knowing each other so well.”
Smith scored two goals and has three through two games. Her penalty-kick conversion gave Marion a 2-0 lead midway through the first half, then a strike off a Coates assist provided the final margin in the 88th minute.
Solon fell to 1-1, 0-1 in Wamac play.
Class 2A No. 13 Marion 4, Solon 0
Goals — Kaitlyn Fuller 2 (2), Naomi Smith 2 (3). Assist — Grace Coates 1 (1).
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