Stepping in for a 14-player senior class can seem daunting.
For Maddy Ims and Darcy Kornkven, the two senior captains for this year’s girls soccer team, though, they’ve decided to take a more collective approach to filling the leadership void left by last year’s giant senior class.
“All the girls on the team have different leadership qualities, and everyone contributes to that,” Kornkven said. “It’s not just Maddy and I, it’s about everyone being positive and everyone getting along with each other and everyone doing their best to make everything work.”
That means there’s plenty of leaning on the five other seniors for the Raiders — Rachel Jaranson, Leah Kovach, Erin Morris, Grace Neuger and Sophie Roback — in the buildup to the first game of the season Tuesday night at Rosemount.
Ims, Kornkven, Morris, Neuger and Roback played significant varsity minutes last season, along with juniors Mya Wesling, Celia Murphy-Pearson and Mariana Rosas-Arenas.
That core group has been responsible with integrating a number of players who are either graduating from last year’s junior varsity team, or are new to the program all together, while also becoming familiar with a new coaching staff.
“I think at first it was kind of tough, but now we’re in a groove, I think,” Ims said.
At times during the first week of practice, the shift in coaching mentality was a tough transition, Ims and Kornkven said. Couple that with the anxiety surrounding tryouts and there were some tense moments, but as the week progressed, the Raiders started to click.
“Everyone was working hard,” Kornkven said. “It was just getting used to a different level of intensity with a different coach, but I think everyone adjusted really well. I feel like in the long run it’s going to make us a lot better.”
That’s good, because Northfield will be tasked with replacing its top four scorers from a year ago in Remy Soulak, Lily Hanlon, Lisette Salgado and Sophie Nelson while also moving up to Class AA. The Raiders do return their leader in assists from a year ago with Morris, who finished the season with nine.
They also return Ims and Kornkven, who both played major minutes on Northfield’s backline a year ago.
“It’s kind of different,” Ims said of both captains being defenders. “Usually it’s like an attacker is a captain and a defender’s a captain, but this year’s different, and I think that’s cool.”
Still, the leadership goes beyond who’s wearing an armband on gamedays, so Ims and Kornkven say it’s not a huge deal they’re both clustered in the same area of the field.
“I think it’s just what you naturally do,” Kornkven said. “Everyone has their own different leadership qualities they can bring, whether that’s being friends with everyone and being nice to everyone, or just bringing a good level of energy. Everyone just has something they naturally bring.”