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PEM girls grab Star of the North soccer title

By Jason Feldman

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

It has been nearly a decade since soccer became a varsity sport at Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School.

The Bulldogs are beginning to build a soccer history, and the players who will fill the Bulldogs’ varsity roster this fall have grown up dribbling and kicking a soccer ball.

"When the high school team first started, most of the girls had never played soccer," said PEM senior-to-be Amanda Eversman, "but most of us have played since kindergarten."

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Most of the players who will lead Plainview-Elgin-Millville this fall were on the field Saturday and Sunday at the Watson Complex in Rochester, leading the PEM U-17 Euro team in the Star of the North Games.

It’s the first year PEM has fielded a Euro team, which is a summer-league team coached by men or women from countries such as Brazil, many of whom have professional playing experience. In fact, PEM has teams for girls ranging from sixth graders up through high schoolers.

"Having this team really helps," Eversman said, "We’re learning a lot and starting to use what we learn in practice in our games. This is more intense; we’re playing against girls who really want to play."

The summer soccer experience is invaluable for the PEM girls. The Bulldogs lost 10 seniors to graduation (including all-Three Rivers Conference midfielder Courtney Walters), meaning many fresh faces will assume leadership roles this fall.

Those fresh faces are getting a head-start on those leadership roles this summer.

Eversman already has assumed that role. She was an all-Three Rivers Conference defender last fall. Eileen Preston is another senior-to-be who played a lot for the Bulldogs last season and is a key member of the Euro team.

"Hopefully we can carry over what we learn here to this fall," Preston said. "We won’t have many seniors, so a lot of the younger girls will need to step up, too."

Among those youngsters the PEM team will look to in the fall is sophomore midfielder Angelica Raincke. She was the only freshman on the PEM varsity roster last year, and she said the Euro league play has required a lot of hard work.

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"This has been more intense but we like the challenge," she said. "A lot of the coaches have played pro soccer and have a lot of experience. We do a lot of different drills; we work a lot on footwork and passing."

Eversman said the PEM players have gained confidence from playing a high level of competition this summer and they will need it come fall, when so many new faces take the field for the Bulldogs.

"We’ll be almost a whole new team," she said.

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