Warriors' Blackman shows teammate that best offense is good defense
Jan. 16, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 15, 2011 at 7:16 p.m.
ON DEFENSEVictoria West has only one returning player on its defense this year, Taylor Blackman. The rest either did not start, were on the junior varsity team at Memorial or were in eighth grade. Some of the players listed split time at other positions.
2, Suzanne Ashley, sophomore
5, Mykeala Lutz, senior
10, Nitziamineth Martinez, freshman
13, Breanna Takacs, freshman
14, Cesia Ramirez, junior
16, Kelsey Parks, senior
17, Taylor Blackman, senior
19, Elizabeth Keenan, junior
20, Kelsey Dechert, senior
The ball rolls down to Taylor Blackman. She stops it, winds up and sends it back down field with a soaring shot that would make a football place kicker jealous.
Just as she's expected to do.
"Coach and I talked, and she decided that she wanted speed back there, and someone with a foot," Blackman said. "Just the experience back at defense was what she wanted."
The senior for Victoria West has played defense before, splitting time last season at Memorial between the back field and the offensive zone.
This year, the redhead who is instantly recognizable no matter where she is on the field stays back defense full time and has taken on a new role: That of teacher.
Blackman is playing defense almost exclusively this year for the Warriors (2-1-0), and Warriors coach Denys McCarter is looking for her to help the younger players learn the ropes for the years to come.
"Taylor is our one returning player back there," McCarter said. "She's definitely not afraid to make her presence known, nor is she afraid to take it up the field."
McCarter said she knows there are going to be problems this season, in part because of the inexperience in the back field for the Warriors.
Blackman, she said, has made the most of the opportunity.
"We're going to have lots of frustration at times, but she's definitely been outstanding at getting them to attack the ball, clear it and help Aubrey (Gasch) at keeper," McCarter said. "Just communicating with them and telling them to go to the ball. When we have as young a team as we have, sometimes they still want to back off a little bit."
A big part of her role, Blackman said, is to help to bolster their mental makeup on the field. Shying away from the play, she said, is not an option for her or anyone else.
"I try to make sure that they aren't scared and are prepared to play at this level," Blackman said. "I try to make sure they don't stab at the ball and that they don't try to hesitate when the go to the ball. We work on clears a lot in practice."
It helps to have a lot of experience. Blackman has been playing since she was young, and she enjoys being able to put her vision of the field to good use from her position as sweeper.
"I've played right wing and now playing defense, and it's a little different," Blackman said. "But I love being able to see the field. Playing in the back, you see the whole field.
"I think playing defense is exciting."
She's mastered launching the ball with her right foot, and is most comfortable back on defense.
So, she's moved onto more challenging goals.
"I just think getting better with my left foot instead of playing with my right," Blackman said.