There's no telling how far this year's version of the Homestead girls' soccer team will go this season.
The Highlanders are off to an encouraging 4-2-1 start this season, including wins over Pius XI (2-0) and Grafton (4-0) last week, but veteran coach Rich Dorn is still not certain whether this squad can break the streak of two years of mediocrity and get back to what he calls "the Homestead standard."
The one that includes three WIAA state titles and a state finals appearance as recently as 2010.
"We're just starting to get there," said Dorn.
So to reinforce the idea that mediocrity will be accepted no more, Dorn took the team out earlier this season to a team bonding exercise at University Lake School.
"There were rope course activities, problem solving exercises, things like that," said Dorn. "The kids had to work together, listen and concentrate, trust each other, because these are the ones (the people) they will rely on (during the course of the season).
"When people yell at you from the sidelines and the stands, who will have your back? These are kids who already get along, but this will help the process."
And there should be a lot of trust on this team, because so many of them are back from the last two seasons (8-8-1 in 2013 and 11-8 in 2012) on an enormous 25-player roster. Co-captains are four-year varsity seniors midfielders Mikaella Sabinash and Shay Darga and forward Shannon Greeley.
Other seniors include keeper Danielle Neilson, forward Katie Cavanaugh, midfielder Katarina Rosich, and defender Kaelee McIlwraith. The team is an amalgam and also includes two freshmen playing key roles in midfielders Brigid West and Jenna Dorf.
"We're still at a place where we have some youth," said Dorn, "but now we've come to a point where maturity, and a sense of urgency and accountability have to come into play. It's a time when you start to grow up.
"We put all these things together, we might successful. I did the bonding exercise at University Lake School because I felt that the team needed to be more player driven. We in essence handed over the keys to the car and we saw a lot more leaders come out.
"It's a beginning."
Homestead does actually have some tools to work with this spring. McIlwraith is also a four-year player and Cavanaugh was not out for a year and has returned, and Dorn notes that her presence on the field will be a huge addition as she can play all positions.
"We're going to be very athletic," he said. "We'll have speed, endurance and athleticism. We can match up well with just about anybody. We have skills and smarts, we can beat anybody and we can lose to anybody, too.
"Our margin of error is just that thin."
The Highlanders stayed on the positive side of that line last week. In the 2-0 win over Pius on April 23, they got first half goals from Greeley and sophomore forward Coco Wiencek (assist Greeley), while on April 22, they got vengeance for a tough North Shore loss last season with the 4-0 victory over Grafton as Wiencek had a hat trick.
Assists went to Darga, Greeley, West and sophomore midfielder Jordan Ellerbrock.
Meatier games at home lie ahead against Brookfield East on Thursday, May 1 (7 p.m.) and Sheboygan North on Saturday, May 3 (11 a.m.), as does a critical North Shore game on Tuesday, May 6 at defending state champion Cedarburg (7 p.m.).
These games will tell Dorn and the team something.
"These kids want to be in good shape. They want to be part of something great," said Dorn, "but our spirit goes beyond our enthusiasm. We still have a lot of progress to make, but this is a good start."
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