As the only senior captain on a young team, Valparaiso midfielder Lauren Reineke serves as both player and mentor for the Times No. 4 Vikings.
Reineke plays the center midfield position, and coach Rob Cespedes said she serves like an additional coach on the field.
“There’s a reason why she’s captain,” he said. “She does have a lot of those abilities to help instruct and guide when a coach can’t be out there.”
Reineke leads the team both on the field and off it, as well.
“I tell them to warm up and make sure everyone knows where to be and what to wear to school,” she said. “On the field, I am directing. I play center mid with a freshman, so I direct her and guide her on the ropes of being a center mid.”
Her game experience, including scoring both goals in Valparaiso’s win over Lake Central in the regional semifinals last season, is something her teammates recognize and appreciate.
“It gives confidence to the entire team to know they have somebody on the field that is like her,” Cespedes said. “She’s been involved in regional finals and sectionals, some of the most competitive games in this area, and (she) has come out on top in some of those. “
From her midfield spot, Reineke is tasked with moving the ball outside or up to the forwards. She also is not afraid to take a shot if the opportunity presents itself, as evidenced by her seven goals on the year.
“I used to play forward, so I know which runs to make and where, so that’s a lot of it,” she said. “Some are just shots. If you don’t shoot, you’re never going to score. It gives me the mindset of scoring. Some center mids have a mindset of passing and passing, but there’s a part of the game where you need to look to score.”
Cespedes appreciates all of her different abilities on and off the field.
“She has a beautiful touch on the ball and a strong idea of the tactics of the game,” he said. “She brings a lot of experience on to the field.
“Not only is she athletically smart, but she is academically smart. Having that combination in a player carries a whole lot for the team.”
Reineke has a strong ability to connect with her teammates, and that has paid dividends for the Vikings.
“She has a great rapport with the other players,” Cespedes said. “The way that she can joke with them and talk with them, she’s able to do those things. She’s a really humble girl.
“She does great work out on the field, and it is beautiful to see, but she doesn’t call attention to herself. She enjoys playing the game. She enjoys doing what’s best for the team, and she’s willing to do anything to help us.”