KIRKLAND – Coaxing Lauren Paver to be assertive, or even a little selfish at times, isn’t always easy for Hinckley-Big Rock girls soccer coach Paul Taeuber.
But early in the second half of H-BR’s 5-2 win over Hiawatha, Paver showed the aggressiveness that Taeuber has been looking for in the soft-spoken junior. Paver dispossessed her defender, dribbled into the box and slammed home the Royals’ fifth goal of a match that was becoming chippy.
“She could probably take on more of a burden or a role, but she’s always thinking about making the correct extra pass,” Taeuber said. “She can get there. That second goal she scored, she said, ‘I got a little angry.’ ”
Paver will have to shoulder a bit more of a goal-scoring load this season, along with a few other teammates up top, after the Royals (2-0) lost Kaitlin Phillips and her area-leading 41 goals to graduation.
She also knows she’ll have to speak up more in Phillips’ stead.
“I have to be more of a leader on the field, talk more,” Paver said. “I’ve seen players ahead of me do it, and I’ve learned from them what I need to do to get the team pumped up.”
She won’t have to shoulder the goal scoring load alone.
Sophomore Jacqueline Madden scored two goals Wednesday and assisted on another, combining well with Paver and junior forward Andrea Binkley, who scored her second goal of the season early in the second half.
Those three had the majority of the chances early on against Hiawatha (0-1), but the Hawks managed to cut the lead to 2-1 late in the first half when freshman Yulissa Solis pounced on a deflection outside of the box and scored on a breakaway.
The young Hiawatha squad had tough stretches, but the Hawks also had some promising moments in their first match of the season.
“It was hard to figure things out with some new people. We were just kind of figuring out and situating people,” Hiawatha coach Kyle Monestero said. “We have a lot of things that we need to work on. I think our girls need more experience just playing together.”
The more experienced H-BR roster saw improvement in its second game of the season. Knowing how to work together without one go-to option up top will be crucial for the Royals, but Madden said she thinks the trifecta of forwards will be able to fill Phillips’ big shoes.
“We improved. I think we’re learning to work together, play together,” Madden said. “We can’t just count on a couple of people to score, we’ve all got to step up.”
Editor's Note: This story has been updated from a previous version.