Valparaiso forward Lauren Reineke is pretty anxious for her junior soccer season to begin.
Reineke split time on the junior varsity and varsity most of last year, then found herself on the pitch for the postseason. She notched her first varsity goal in the sectional semifinals against Portage then doubled that output in a 4-1 championship win over Chesterton.
The Vikings' tiurnament run ended two games later in the regional championship, cutting short Reineke's postseason outburst.
"(The postseason) was incredible; I didn't expect anything special," Reineke said. "Then I couldn't wait for next year when I would be a full-time varsity player.
"I'm so ready to play."
Valparaiso coach Robert Cespedes knew of Reineke before last postseason, but the sophomore was caught in a numbers game. He then chose Reineke for the sectional as an energy boost for the club.
"We always knew she could play," Cespedes said. "I just wanted to make sure she was getting playing time.
"We had players who had aches and pains, we wanted to find some healthier players to carry through for us. I think her combination of speed and ball skills made a quick impression about being an offensive threat. We think she can carry over to this season."
Even though her varsity time was brief last year, Reineke believes that little taste of play will pay off handsomely for her this fall.
"I remember being so nervous during my first game in the regular season against LaPorte; the jump from JV to varsity is huge with the different skills and speed of play," said Reineke, whose older brothers Patrick and Nick played for the Vikings' boys soccer team. "I now know how varsity works, and I know that I can compete."
Reineke now has a chance to work full-time with senior midfielders Kaylee Pullins and Andrea Violanti.
"That will definitely help Lauren's game," Cespedes said. "They are great playmakers, and they should give her great opportunities."
Reineke doesn't consider herself to be a great 1-on-1 player, feeling that she does a lot more off the ball to create scoring opportunities.
"I'm just not that creative with moves," Reineke admitted. "I'm fast enough to get to a ball played to me. If me and the defender have the same line to the ball, I'm determined to get there first.
"(Pullins and Violanti) are great with combination plays. I cannot do it myself, and it's great to know I have so much help. I've been having so much fun."