Soccer (Girls V)

Defensive Minded Red Devils Look to Regional Competition

By Annie Dooley | Oct 11, 2023 4:50 PM

By Annie Dooley Photos by David Kovich Over the past four seasons, the West Lafayette defense has been a consistent force in Tippecanoe County girls soccer. Allowing just 48 goals in 68 games played for a 0.71 goals allowed average, it is no wonder why West Lafayette again find themselves moving through the state tournament. Anchored by senior goalkeeper Adrianne Tolen, who has amassed 285 saves in her four seasons, the Red Devil defense has allowed just 7 goals during the 2023 campaign. Heading into the 2023 season, all eyes were on the void in the backline left by senior Anna Lasater who moved into the midfield after three years as a defender. Those not well versed with the West Lafayette program may have guessed that the 2023 defense would take a hit after losing the 2022 J&C Player of the Year, but Lasater’s move to the midfield helped bolster the Red Devil midfield that graduated Ava Hallberg and Reegan Leeper. Senior Dani Rawles and junior Dylan Kastens, both three year starters, have risen to the challenge. Head coach Jocelyn Cavalier explains, “I’ve always been a defensive minded coach and embraced the mindset of let’s find out how we can best maximize our 11 best players and adjust as needed. Shifting Anna up was the best way to maximize our strengths this year.” After starting each of the last two seasons playing in a four back, West Lafayette head coach Jocelyn Cavalier examined her team’s strengths and shifted into a three back. Dani Rawles has taken on an increased defensive responsibility, moving from right back as sophomore to the center back in the three defender system. With Dylan Kastens continuing in the left back position and junior Allison Creech stepping into a starting role at right back, the Red Devil defense has used their experience to keep other teams out of the box and limit offensive opportunities for opponents. “Dani Rawles and Dylan Kastens had been rocks for us on the back line the last two years and we knew we could trust them to minimize attacking pressure,” says Cavalier. Coach Cavalier’s defensive mentality has certainly transferred to her team, with all 11 players pitching in on defensive efforts. Central midfielders Anna Lasater, Sarah Werth, Hannah Chen, and Stella Teel have combined to control the middle of the pitch and thwart opponent’s chances to make it into the Red Devil defensive third. Starting midfielders Malavika Sujith and Lauren Kovich put in the miles each game, playing 18 to 18 to not only create scoring opportunities, but get back and defend. Cavalier says, “The fact we have given up even fewer shots this year is a testament to the way our whole team plays defense and wins the ball back all over the field.” The cohesion of this team is, no doubt, critical to their success on the field. Senior Dani Rawles points to the fact that the team plays as a team and not as individuals, something that doesn’t happen on every team. Junior Allison Creech echoes the tight knit nature of the squad, remarking that “[becoming close off the field] has in turn helped us to stay connected and organized…only allowing 7 goals on the year.” She points to the leadership of Rawles and Tolen as the source of her confidence in her new found starting role. Moving into this week’s regional competition, West Lafayette is looking to capitalize on their strengths and advance to the regional championship for the fourth straight season. With an experienced back line and a goalkeeper described by her coach as “one of the best keepers in the state” West Lafayette feel like they may just have the right team to do it.

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