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Girls Soccer: Leadership, athleticism to guide Red Wing

Matea Simonson (12) is one of the senior captains that will be looked at to help push the Red Wing girls' soccer team to the next level. File photo

The Red Wing girls' soccer team is welcoming a new but familiar face as head coach this fall — 2008 Red Wing High School graduate, Taylor Becker. In addition to head coaching duties with the Red Wing Soccer Club from 2012-2016, she also played goalkeeper for the Wingers in her high school years.

Although it's Becker's first head coaching position at the high school level, she's coached soccer for over a decade and hopes to bring that experience to her hometown team. Stops she's made on her way to the gig at Red Wing include coaching the Eclipse Select Soccer Club of West St. Paul and an assistant position with Augsburg University — which she still holds. She was also recently hired as the director of goalkeeping for the Lakeville Soccer Club. Pulling triple duty this fall is a daunting task but one she's up to handling and one she thinks can benefit the Wingers.

"It's nice because I can take what I learn from the college level or elsewhere and apply it here," Becker said. "It's a little bit different being my first high school-specific experience, but (the team) has really come out ready to go and they're doing everything we can ask of them."

What she's asking of her players isn't easy either. After relaxing days of summer break, fall sports athletes are thrust back into the grind of getting in shape physically and mentally before the school year officially begins.

Becker and her staff met with the team last March putting together a game plan for how everyone wanted the season to begin. The premise was simple: be in shape and ready to go on the first day of practice. And with a week of practice under their belts, Becker couldn't be happier with the early results.

"My standards are high, but they're really meeting them," Becker said. "We have a good set of captains and seniors that are really keeping the level high for us and keeping the competition going in these practices."

The biggest ask from Becker so far has simply been ensuring the team has the mentality of competing all the time — including each drill during practice. The theory behind it is that if the team gets used to competing every time they hit the field for practice, it will translate to tenacious play during a game. And that plays well to Red Wing's strengths.

Red Wing has a wealth of upperclassmen leaders but also a roster full of athletes. Becker plans to use both to her advantage this fall and push the team past the hump of four straight second-round exits in the section playoffs.

"The girls know how tough conference play can be and that the section is what we're always building for," Becker said. "They have high expectations for themselves, and as a staff, we are laying high expectations on them, and they are responding well to that."

The first opportunity for the Wingers to build towards those expectations will be a trip to Mankato East on Thursday, Aug. 23. The Wingers hold its first home game at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28, against Mankato West.

Jake Pfeifer

Jake Pfeifer is a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, which encompasses the Hastings Star Gazette, Farmington-Rosemount Independent Town Pages, South Washington County Bulletin and Woodbury Bulletin. He previously worked as a sports reporter and outdoors editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and as a multimedia artist/editor for Detroit Lakes Newspapers.

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