The North Fort Myers High School girls soccer team is much like a very successful college football or basketball program, they never seem to rebuild, but rather reload.
After losing six seniors to graduation, including Madison Lampkins, the team has replaced them with a class of freshmen who have been able to make immediate contributions to the program.
The result has been a 9-1-1 start and the usual position of being at or near the top of District 3A-13 with arch-rival Mariner.
North Fort Myers High School girls soccer player Macy Earhart battles a Lemon Bay player for the ball during a game last week.
When Lemon Bay, which had gotten off to a good start in district play, came to Moody Field last week in hopes of joining the district race, it was given a dose of reality at the hands of the Red Knights.
Senior captain Tori Kowalczyk scored two goals and two assists, while freshman Emilee Hauser also had two goals. Fellow freshmen Hailey Turner and Taylor Metzger also put the ball in the net for the Red Knights.
North coach Nick Erickson said they tried a different formation, using three defenders in the first half, which resulted in a slower start, but figured things out in a hurry. When they went back to their normal formation, things really clicked.
"When we play our game, we generate a lot of shots. We could have finished a few more. There were some opportunities for us and with districts and regionals we need to capitalize," Erickson said.
Erickson attributed the fast start to the incoming freshmen, which he called the best in the county, and the depth all the way down the roster that it has resulted in.
"The nice thing about this team is that anyone on the bench can pick up the slack, and there's no real dropoff. It's the first time we've had a true one through 18 lineup," Erickson said. "We get a lot of high-level girls here, academically and soccerwise."
Kowalczyk said everyone sees what the team is doing by reading the newspaper and it has resulted in a lot of girls wanting to come out.
"What we do really shows. We train and practice and give it our all every day so when we come out here, we play our game," Kowalczyk said.
Fellow captain, junior Makenzi Walden, said the team does a good job defending and spreading he field to create openings offensively, something the young players have caught on to.
"We have really talented freshmen, four or five of which are starters, so I think they'll help us this year with states," Walden said. "They're a tough bunch to go against even in practice."