Freshman trio key to Glenwood Springs’ soccer success |

Freshman trio key to Glenwood Springs’ soccer success

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentGlenwood Springs High School varsity freshmen, from left, Holly Brown, Michaela Mansfield and Corey Gera.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Bryan Stoltzfus is a coach who doesn’t pay much mind to age when it comes to distributing playing time. If a freshman outplays a senior, the freshman’s going to see plenty of the pitch.

It’s a coaching philosophy that’s serving the second-year Glenwood Springs girls soccer coach well in 2009.

Really well.

Behind a trio of freshman forwards, Stoltzfus and the Demons are thriving.

Corey Gera, Michaela Mansfield and Holly Brown played their way onto the varsity roster in the preseason and have been rewarding Stoltzfus ever since. The three have combined to score 40 of the team’s 58 goals and are behind Glenwood’s 12-1-1 record in a big way.

Stoltzfus has been with the program, in one capacity or another, for nearly a decade and never before has he seen so much young talent come through the pipeline at the same time. He’s seen individual players have success right off the bat, but nothing quite like what he’s seen with Gera, Mansfield and Brown.

What makes them so special?

“They have speed and control and, mentally, they have it,” Stoltzfus said. “A lot of times seniors don’t even get it. They just start to see the field in college. They know where to be on the field. They run the space.”

And, perhaps amplifying their success, the three have played with one another for some time. All have been Glenwood Springs Soccer Club fixtures since they were tykes and work well together.

Really well.

“We’ve played together before, so we kind of know how each other works,” Gera said.

That seems to apply both on and off the field. The three couldn’t stop laughing and poking fun at each other as they thought back to how they all came to be on the same club team.

“I was on another team and then I was invited to play (with them) in their tournament,” Mansfield said, pointing to Brown and Gera.

“We lost that tournament really bad,” Gera joked.

It’s that lighthearted nature keeps the three from taking themselves too seriously in the face of success.

“They’re just good kids,” Stoltzfus said. “Their heads aren’t swelling with all this attention and stuff. They come out and practice and play hard every day.”

“We love them. They’re so funny,” senior captain Tiffany Brickell added. “They keep a smile on our face all the time.”

Beyond earning their keep in entertainment value, Glenwood’s youngsters seem to be pushing their elder teammates to greater heights.

“Since we’ve all been the main scorers, that’s helped push the others on the team,” Mansfield said. “It’s put us all together to push even more and do even better.”

And the Demons have grown exponentially better as the season’s progressed. They haven’t lost a game since a March 14 trip to Steamboat Springs yielded a 4-1 defeat.

Senior Abbe Vincent, another of the team’s captains, credits Glenwood’s fab freshmen with keeping the Demons out of the loss column.

“The whole freshman class has just been amazing,” Vincent lauded. “I mean, they really make our team. We’re good, but they’ve made it so we have a winning season. I give it up to them.”

Glenwood aims to keep the wins coming as the Class 4A state playoffs get going tonight. The Demons will play host to 7-7-1 Evergreen at 6 p.m. at Stubler Memorial Field.

“I think we can definitely win the first game, and I want to win the first game,” Gera said. “I definitely think we could. We just have to step up and realize we can.”

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