No matter where the action on the field is, Wheeler midfielder Shannon Eden is certain to be in the middle of it.
As a holding central midfielder, Eden is tasked with both defending in the center of the field and with distributing the ball to the forwards to get the offense started.
“Regardless of the play, she’s always in the play,” Wheeler coach Bryan Murray said. “She understands the game well and competes for her teammates on a nightly basis.”
Eden, who totaled nine goals and five assists last season as a sophomore, has notched a goal and four assists in helping the Bearcats to a 3-0 start to the season. She had a penalty kick goal and an assist in Wheeler’s 3-2 win over Highland on Saturday.
“She’s off to a tremendous start,” Murray said. “Those are tremendous numbers for someone who plays defense the way she does. She’s everywhere.”
On offense, Eden takes the ball from the Wheeler defenders and moves it ahead to the forwards so they can make a run toward the goal. She only has a few split seconds to decide where to go with the ball.
“I’m looking for one of their defenders to be out of place or little mistakes that we can capitalize on as a whole,” Eden said. “You have maybe a second at most (to decide). It has to be quick.”
Eden and forwards Terra Philips and Lauren Fratzke have gotten comfortable working together and that has led to many good chances for the Bearcats.
“She has learned their tendencies,” Murray said. “You can see the three of them coming together. They are starting to get on the same page and create opportunities.”
“This is our second year together,” Eden said. “We have figured it out. We are able to work well off of each other.”
On defense, Eden holds in the middle of the field and can also come back and assist the defenders if needed.
“She can play on the ball,” Murray said. “She’s physical enough to play with people. She understands what to do when holding on the field. She knows when to hold her spot and when to attack.”
In her junior season, Eden has stepped up her game to make up for the graduation of seniors from last year’s sectional-winning team.
“She’s taken on more responsibility,” Murray said. “Our losses last year were big. We needed people to step up and fill the void, and she’s done that.”
The Bearcats learned from winning the sectional title last season and want to go deeper in the state tournament this year.
“(Getting to the regional) was a learning experience for us,” Eden said. “We have to learn from every game and try and get back there. I think we can have as good a season or better than last year. We are on a good start to that again this year.”