Linville among leaders for Grove City
Paige Linville stood to the right of the bench, listening intently as coach Josh Keller addressed the Grove City High School girls soccer team.
Even though the Greyhounds didn't beat visiting New Albany on Sept. 6 -- the teams played to a scoreless tie -- the senior forward was thrilled with the outcome.
"I'm so proud of us right now," Linville said. "I was a little worried about us before the game, but we came out and didn't back down."
That was important to Linville, who is a team captain along with junior Ashley Artrip. She has been a member of Grove City teams that have lost handily to New Albany, 4-1 last season and 2-0 in 2010.
"(The Eagles) have beaten us in the past with strong defense and up front," Linville said. "We got hit hard (Sept. 6) but didn't give up, and that's important."
Keller echoed those sentiments about his players.
"(They) gave everything and showed a lot of focus," he said. "We're 3-1-3 (overall) after seven games, which is not a bad place to be right now."
Keller said Linville has shown grit in her three seasons as a starter. She did not play as a freshman because of the levy failure that prompted the cancellation of fall activities in South-Western City Schools in 2009.
"Paige has so much heart and determination and has amazing leadership skills," he said. "She plays with a knee brace, but takes everyone on during games. She looks at going one-on-one as a personal battle and wants to win that (challenge) every time."
Through its first seven games, Grove City's only loss came in the opener against Marysville, 2-1 on Aug. 21. On Sept. 4, the Monarchs tied perennial state power Dublin Coffman at 1.
But Linville said the Greyhounds didn't jell as a team until they defeated Westerville South 5-2 on Sept. 1.
"(South) beat us pretty bad in a scrimmage last month," Linville said. "(On Sept. 1) that was the first time we played as a team this season and everything started to click for us."
Linville had two goals and an assist last year, but had yet to score through seven games.
After her freshman season was wiped out, she wants to make the most of her senior year.
"It kind of stunk (not having a freshman season)," she said. "I had looked up to the seniors (on the 2009 team) for a long time and it was tough that they weren't able to play. That taught me that you can never take anything for granted.
"Now it's kind of weird being a senior, with everyone looking up to you. As a senior, you have to be the positive influence on the younger players because they really do look to you to set the tone for the team."
Linville plans to make soccer part of her life, even if she doesn't play in college.
"I would love to play in college, but I don't know where I'm going (to school)," said Linville, who has a 4.1 GPA and would like to major in physical therapy or sports training. "It would be great to play (soccer) in college, but if I don't, I will play club or intramural or soccer in some form. I always want to be playing soccer."
But, for now, Linville is staying focused on the season, hoping the Greyhounds play deep into the postseason.
"Coach Keller has taught us to never give up and always play for the team," she said. "Everything has to be done as a team, whether it's warming up or running onto the field. It's done as a team, and I'm not ready for that to end."