Wheeler girls soccer has been deadly in transition early on in 2017.
Lyric Green is a large reason why.
The junior forward already has 15 goals and six assists through just eight games—all wins. The avalanche of scoring comes after a 23-goal, 11-assist campaign as a sophomore.
Green lurks as far up the field as anyone on Wheeler’s squad just waiting for an opponent to make a mistake. Once they do and the Bearcats earn possession, she’s off to the races looking to manufacture a score on the other end.
“She’s an engine,” Wheeler coach Bryan Murray said of Green. “She drives everything we do.”
That isn’t by accident, either.
Green’s ascension over three years with Wheeler soccer is the direct result of rigorous summer training regimen. She spent six days a week training from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. regularly and sometimes tossed in another five hours in the evening to fine-tune a game that sometimes already looks perfect.
“That right there, that’s what she is,” Murray said. “She desires perfection.”
In a sense, Green fell for soccer by accident. The rest of her family were softball players, a sport she too played until she was about 12 and gave it up for soccer, which she began playing when she was in the first grade.
Now she’s the heart and soul of a Wheeler program that ranks among the best in the state and a success story of the New Future Soccer Academy, a program Green said helped to overhaul her game.
“I just love the game, honestly,” Green said. “It doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing something you love like that.”
After playing out wide for Wheeler as an underclassman, Green now owns the center forward position and has the freedom to come up the field when she pleases or to set herself up for a run toward the other end.
There are times Green will get lost in the middle of the pitch and serve as a spark plug in the middle during build-up play. She’s comfortable playing with her back toward the goal and finding a teammate making a run to pass off to.
But Green is at her best when she’s got room to run.
Despite regularly drawing the attention of multiple defenders at once, Green will hang as far down the field as possible and wait for a through-ball to chase after. When a pass down the field sails over the back line she’ll chase it down, earn possession with either foot and look for a scoring opportunity she’ll more often than not cash in on.
It doesn’t take much for Green to find the space she needs, either. One lapse and she’s gone.
“Her pace of play really never slows down,” Murray said. “Her movement off the ball is so much better now than it was last year. Technically, yes, she’s improved. She can shoot with her left foot or right, which is great. Her pace and movement off the ball to get to the ball where she’s making good, angled runs (is what is) making a big difference for us.”
Physically, Green practically goes unnoticed. She admits that the defenders she goes up against night in and night out tend to have three inches of height and plenty of strength on her but tries to use her technical skills to outshine what she may lack in size.
Murray says her mindset doesn’t hurt, either.
“There’s a lot of fight in there,” he said. “She’s a competitor, and there’s no fear about her when she comes out to play.”
If Wheeler opponents hadn’t already realized that they are now.
Green is no longer a secret power source for the Bearcats, who have state title aspirations.
She’s the driving force.
“I’m just trying to make the most of everything we have in front of us,” Green said. “This has been more fun than anything I’ve done in my life. I love the girls. I love the coaches. I love this team. I’m just happy to be a part of it right now.”