Connect with us


Golden Eagles prepared to carry on girls’ soccer tradition

Aberdeen Central’s Kailyn Poppen, left, settles the ball as she makes her way to the goal ahead of Sioux Falls Jefferson’s Lainey Bream, right, during a playoff game last year at the Brownell Activities Complex. Poppen went on to score on the play. Photo by John Davis taken 10/8/2022

Aberdeen Central has established its selfish as one of the premier Class AA girls’ soccer programs in the state, and all the pieces are in place for that tradition to continue on the pitch this fall.

The Golden Eagles just missed winning a state title last season, coming up one goal short in the championship game. There are numerous returning members prepared for another stellar season.

“I think the girls, they come in thinking that it’s time to go. They know where we were at last year and where we want to be,” said Central coach Merle Aske. “I think they’re pretty excited about the season, now it’s just a matter of getting through these first couple of weeks and getting in all the training that we need, getting some of those players that didn’t play a lot last year that are going to play this year, getting them on the same page as everybody else.”

The squad will be lead on offense by a pair of senior dynamos in Deshani Peters and Kailyn Poppen. Each possesses breakaway speed and is a threat to score at any time.

“Their field vision is really good,” Aske said. “They can see that when they’re on the ball, if there’s a point to attack, they’re right there and they have the speed and ability to get it to that spot right away, and either lay the ball off for somebody else or to finish themselves.”

Peters has become proficient at corner kicks, able to bend the ball right into the goal on several occasions.

“She’s developed that technique,” Aske said. “She understands how to hit the ball and get that curve on it.”

Aberdeen Central’s Deshani Peters tries to keep the ball in play as the Golden Eagles bench looks on during last year’s Class AA State Championship game against Harrisburg in Tea. Photo by John Davis taken 10/15/2022

One the other end of the field, Ciara Frank gives the Eagles athleticism in goal. The standout jumper in track and field provides a tough obstacle for opponents to deal with when trying to score.

“She’s really athletic. She can jump out of the gym,” Aske said. “She can do so many things. She’s got quick feet and her leaping ability is really good.”

Central will also have multiple veterans all over the pitch. Key contributors will include seniors Bailey DeGroot, Madison Hochstetter, Abigail Witte, Lauren Joosten, Taylor Lyke and Madyson Gillen, and juniors Kirra Stillman and Gracie Lozenski, among many others.

That quality depth does not happen by accident. Aske always has his mind on the future while playing for the present.

“You want to have your top players, but everybody else has to get minutes, too, because you never know when somebody is going to have to step in for somebody,” Aske said. “And every year, next year is always kind of on your mind a little bit. You know that those players that are the backups need those minutes as backups so when it’s their time to shine, when they’re called upon to be the starters in the next seasons coming up, they’re ready to go.”

That said, look for the Golden Eagles to have much the same style this season as they have in recent years. Players will be aggressive when they can, also understanding they can’t afford to get out of position to give foes opportunities to score.

“We’re going to want to attack with speed and pace, but we’re also be able to control the ball a little bit,” Aske said. “We want to be able to attack with that fierce pace and put a lot of pressure on those teams, but at the same time you have to keep your formation. You have to keep your people in right spots, so that if you do happen to turn the ball over you’re not going to give up those counter attacks.”

While Central has plenty of standout players returning to the pitch this fall, defending State AA champion Harrisburg returns its entire squad from a year ago.

“They’ll be for sure the favorite,” Aske said.

Expect the Golden Eagles, as always, to be right in the mix.

Aske said while the team is now focused on its first opponent when it hosts Spearfish on Friday, the players understand what the season goals are, because they never change.

“The goals are the same very year,” Aske said. “We want to be toward the top of the conference. If we can win the conference, that’s a big goal. And when we get to the playoffs, we want to playing our best and make as deep a run as possible.”

Purchase a Photo

Browse By Category

Browse By Month

More in Soccer