Bull Dogs backline a blend of veterans, rookies

After watching their older teammates navigate the backline the past couple years, senior goalkeeper Mallory Gilley and senior center back Riley Schumm are now the seasoned veterans on the Columbus North girls soccer team that are now called upon to be the leaders of the defense.

It’s taken some time for Gilley and Schumm to get adjusted to their new roles on the team. Even though the Bull Dogs’ record hasn’t been what it was the past two years, it’s going to be a clean slate as they and the rest of their teammates head into Franklin Central Sectional play starting on Thursday.

Schumm mentioned playing with her previous teammates since she was young, they knew where each other were going to be on the field, so there wasn’t much talking as they were all comfortable playing with each other. With new players stepping into the vacant spots, she said the communication role is mostly on her.

Columbus North defender Riley Schumm controls the ball during practice at the Richard Wigh Soccer Complex in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

“It’s been very different for me because now, I’m the voice of the backline, but it’s gone really well,” Schumm said. “Obviously, with the new faces, it’s not as predictable. Our communication has gotten a lot better this season. It’s honestly been a good thing, and we all handled it very well.”

Center back Allison Kolhouse is one of two freshmen, along with right back Gabby Spurgeon to play the backline this season. Kolhouse isn’t a stranger playing on the backline. She’s played there ever since she was little starting up soccer.

Columbus North’s Allison Kolhouse, left, attempts the get the ball from teammate Lauren Barker during practice at the Richard Wigh Soccer Complex in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Kolhouse said the seniors have done a great job showing them the ropes and making specific communications.

“They’re helpful because they have a lot of experience,” Kolhouse said. “They both started over three years, and I’ve been watching and playing on the field with them. They’re really able to help me and teach me how to step in the big position. That’s important because I really trust them as players, and being able to have them help me and guide me is really helpful.”

One of the big shoes Kolhouse had to fill were those of last year’s All-State player, Nitya Chenanda. Kolhouse wasn’t afraid to admit she didn’t think she was going to step into a starter role at the beginning of the season, but she said the transition has been smooth.

“I’ve been watching Columbus North soccer for six years because of my sisters (Kate and Kara), and I know Nit. Last year, I thought was so good and I wanted to be like her,” Kolhouse said. “I felt really proud when I was able to step in for her because everyone always talked about how good she was, and I always wanted to be like her.”

Columbus North goalkeeper Mallory Gilley practices makes a save during practice at the Richard Wigh Soccer Complex in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.

Mike Wolanin | The Republic

Gilley said her communication hasn’t changed a whole lot, but it’s still a learning process.

“I noticed it gets harder getting to the younger players because they’re young and still learning. Overall, I think it’s been a really successful journey with the backline, personally,” Gilley said. “I think it’s easier because with the younger players, if you’re telling them what to do, they’re more likely to listen and learn.”

Schumm also has shown her younger teammates about being mentally tough, especially in situations when a goal gets conceded.

“Whenever someone makes a mistake, I always try to boost them back up because I know how easy it is to get it in your head about if a mistake is made, so it’s definitely a mental game,” Schumm said. “I pretty much just calm them down and have a normal one-on-one conversation with them and be like, ‘This is what you could do to probably prevent that goal from happening again. You’re still young. It’s gonna happen. Everybody makes a mistake.’ But honestly, that one-on-one is the best way to calm them down and keep it out of their head.”

Junior Charlotte Loheide and sophomore Greta Schuetz have shared the left back spot for North, which has allowed 23 goals in 16 games.

The Bull Dogs (7-6-3) are set for a rematch with Roncalli at 6 p.m. Thursday. It was a tightly contested matchup in the regular season, with Royals prevailing 1-0.

“We go through different phases, and we’re on our final phase, preparing for sectional,” North coach David Young said. “The girls know the rotation, and they know who’s going to rotate in when, and they feel comfortable with playing with each other and we’ve had that the last few weeks.”