|Charlotte Lady Eagles take on Queen City in May 18 friendly|
|Eagles have mix of experience and youth|
|Published Monday, May 17, 2021 8:30 pm|
|PHOTO | CHARLOTTE EAGLES|
|The Charlotte Lady Eagles beat Charlotte Independence Central in their Women's Premier Soccer League opener.|
The Charlotte Lady Eagles soared through their season opener.
A 5-2 Women’s Premier Soccer League Carolinas Conference Southern Division win against Charlotte Independence Central kicked off their second campaign with a splash. Striker Marina Nesic scored a hat trick along with goals from striker Bella Miller and Charlotte 49ers midfielder Michaela Arteta.
Head coach Sam Hope had four training sessions with the side prior to their opener, so defensive organization was the priority heading into the match. Offensive efficiency was a bonus.
“The girls played incredible they executed exactly what we wanted from them,” she said. “They did that in stride.”
Next up is a friendly against Queen City on May 18 at 4:30 p.m. Their next WPSL match is against the Women’s Football Club of Charlotte on May 26 at Manchester Meadows at 8 p.m.
Hope, who led the Eagles through their inaugural WPSL season in 2019, where they went 8-1-1, assembled a side consisting of nearly 50% former players from previous seasons or participated in last summer’s virtual season.
“I'll be honest, one of our prayers was for retention, like, two or three years ago and this year we have the most returning players do we ever had,” she said. “We are either at half, or just a little bit over half with players who have been with us, whether it was last year through a virtual season or whether it was someone who played for us five or six years ago.”
After a summer of uncertainty and disrupted college seasons, the players were happy to have a summer season.
“The majority of the girls that we have pursued were just excited that a league was happening that they could play soccer again,” Hope said.
While the roster features a number of familiar faces, there are also new ones. Nesic is among the newcomers, and she is not the typical college player. She played at North Carolina as a graduate transfer in 2012 after graduating from Grand Canyon University in Arizona. Nesic, who is in her early 30s, also played for the Serbian national team.
“Adding her to the roster toward towards the end of our recruiting really was a blessing,” Hope said. “She is going to be incredible for us this summer.”
The Eagles are surrounded by local colleges, giving them ample opportunity for recruiting, including the Charlotte 49ers, Hope’s alma mater. Center back Kristy Campbell, goalkeeper Emma Wakeman, in addition to Arteta, are 49ers on the Eagles roster.
While the season will run like a traditional experience for the most part with easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the Eagles have gotten creative with their mission work, which would typically take them to South America. Based on travel limitations and safety concerns, the team created a local tour.
“What we are doing instead is we created what we called ‘Charlotte tour,’” Hope said. “It is actually this week, so we've been serving in different places here in Charlotte. For instance, we went and served at Second Harvest Food Bank this morning. We'll be going to Hope Haven on Thursday. We'll be working with our East Charlotte ministries, our urban soccer ministries, on Friday and Saturday.”
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