Gill a key piece of Whiteland’s improvement this season

Whiteland girls soccer coach Nick Magdalinos will sit a player during a match his team is winning handily shortly after she scores her third goal.

That includes junior forward Emma Gill — contrary to recent developments.

The Warriors were pitching a convincing shutout against Northview at the eight-team Evansville Memorial Invitational last weekend when Gill found the back of the net with her third and fourth goals of the match.

Eighty-one seconds, it turns out, wasn’t enough time to get her off of the field.

“I couldn’t get her out in time,” laughed Magdalinos, whose squad will play Roncalli in the opener of the Class 3A sectional at Franklin Central next Tuesday. “Emma is having a phenomenal year. She used to be a fast player with touch, but now she’s so much more.

“It’s just more her growth as a player. Her soccer IQ grows every year.”

As does the program as a whole.

Aside from Gill, eight Warrior seniors divvy up captain responsibilities. Now factor in a core of outstanding young players around which to build, and Whiteland is in a position to earn some long-awaited notice in the postseason.

No Warriors team has won a girls soccer sectional; seventh-ranked Center Grove, responsible for a state-leading 23 such titles, now hosts its own six-team site and is no longer a roadblock.

“Emma and (sophomore) Alexa LaPorte have this crazy chemistry going right now,” Magdalinos said. “And Madison Fleury, who is a freshman, is progressing great. And as a coach, I couldn’t ask for better seniors. They’re great leaders. Great teammates. And they’re unselfish.”

Whiteland is 9-5 on the season following Monday’s 9-1 win at Triton Central. It plays an important Mid-State Conference match today at Mooresville (both squads are 4-2 against league opponents).

Gill has produced 12 goals and assisted on four others this season.

Always fleet of foot — she ran the 100- and 200-meter dashes, long jumped and was second leg of the 4×100 relay last track and field season — Gill credits her club soccer experiences for helping shape her overall game.

Being a member of FC Pride travel team the past two years allows the junior a different perspective.

“Playing outside of high school has helped a lot with my technical skill,” Gill said. “It’s definitely a lot faster paced. I take a lot more pride playing in high school, but travel is definitely more difficult because we play against kids mostly from other states.

“I feel I’ve improved most just being quick off the ball and having good footwork.”

Not to be overlooked are the seniors forming the backbone of what is Magdalinos’ fourth Whiteland team. The group is led, at least vocally, by midfielder Haley Achs and defender Grace Scudder.

“It’s just about this team having so much chemistry that has made this season fun,” Gill said. “Since most of our seniors have been playing for four years, they all know what they’re doing, and if you have a question, you can ask them.”

Gill still does. She isn’t about to mess with a winning formula.