Austin in the middle: Packers introduce girls middle school soccer team

Published 7:59 am Friday, July 28, 2017

The Austin girls soccer program is taking a big step this fall as it will be starting a new middle school team for the first time ever. The girls program is following the steps of the boys program, who started a middle school program a couple of years ago, and now all soccer players at Ellis Middle School will have a chance to play on their own team.

Last season, Austin had 30 players on the C squad, which made it very difficult for coaches to hand out playing time. Austin head coach Jake Levisen, who is in his second year at the helm for the Packers, said having a middle school program will give a huge boost to girls soccer in Austin, so players will have a chance to play amongst their peers.

It’s going to help build the foundation of the girls program. [The middle school program] will be geared towards developing the fundamentals of soccer and really pushing technique, as well as getting gameplay at age specific levels,” Levisen said. “Having thirty kids on C squad last year was a tremendous thing to have, but it created less opportunities for that gameplay development and that practice structure.”

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The middle school program will have two coaches and it will play four to five matches per season. It will also prevent players from having to jump up and practice with high school players before they are ready for that level.

It can be intimidating going into seventh grade and picturing yourself working with the high school athletes,” Levisen said. “This will be a great opportunity for individuals who might have done summer league, but were hesitant to practice with the older girls.”

Levisen will now focus his attention on the varsity team, where the Packers are hoping to find some success in his second year at the helm. The team has a strong group of seniors on the roster and it has some high hopes.

“The girls made great gains last year with the style of play that I was trying to implement. I think this year is going to be a very good year. I foresee this second year with us really hitting the ground running,” Levisen said. “They’re all hungry for the game and that’s all you can ask for as coaches.”

Levisen encouraged any middle school girls interested in playing soccer to end the fall sports meeting at the high school Aug. 7.

The Austin girls varsity team finished 4-10-1 overall last season and it will open the 2018 campaign when it plays at Waseca 7 p.m. Aug. 24. Austin’s home opener will be against Winona 7 p.m. Sept. 7.