Freshman phenom Sydney Balducci pushes Holt to conference success
Sydney Balducci was not expected to contribute much in any role on the Holt girls varsity soccer team when the season began in late March. Fast forward to mid-May and it’s hard to imagine the Indians’ soccer team’s successful campaign without Balducci playing a big role in it.
Balducci, a freshman forward, has been simply superb for Holt through 10 games heading into early May. At that time, she was tied for the team lead in goals  and was second on the team in points .
“I’ve been really happy with the way the season has gone so far,” Balducci said. “I’ve worked really hard and I feel like I deserve it [the success]. I’m really happy the opportunity came up.”
The chance to shine on the field arrived on April 7 against Washington, when Balducci scored two goals in a 3-0 Holt victory.
“The biggest things that made her stick on varsity was that early in the season we had a lot of injuries, players being out of town, and she started scoring the junk goals and did a lot of the little things that coaches tell players to do,” head coach Gred Schroeder said. “She was able to show that she not only had the talent, but the desire to win the ugly games and score the ugly goals.”
Scoring has come in bunches at times for Balducci and, in late April/early May, she had become virtually impossible for opposing teams to keep out of the goal box or scoring goals. In fact, at presstime, she was one of the top three scorers in the GAC Central conference along with three assists.
“She’s got a good haul of goals considering how many games she’s been in, and among the area leaders, she’s a got a good haul, so we’re impressed,” Schroeder said.”
Moving into the starting lineup after being in a fill-in role, Balducci said she has been able be more aggressive with the ball – not just shooting but passing to help to help set up other teammates for scoring chances.
“I can get the ball out, and my team is great with passing the ball and taking shots,” Balducci said. “It has been working out for us.”
Soccer has been in Balducci’s blood since the fourth grade. Before joining Holt, she honed her abilities playing with the Missouri Rush.
One major improvement to her game, which has allowed her to be a constant factor in the Indians’ offense, has been her ability to see the field much better and adjust her attack with the ball based on what she sees downfield.
“I’ve really looked down at the ball at lot [when moving with it previously] and I’ve worked a lot on looking up and knowing where to pass,” Balducci said.
Holt entered the month of May with a 7-0 GAC Central record to claim the conference title. Balducci is more than happy to be a part of that success.
“It’s really been a good year,” Balducci said. She hopes that success carries over into the postseason for her and her teammates. “We all know each other and how we play when to make those runs. We’re looking to win districts.”
Looking down field, the future looks bright for Balducci.
“She’s had a big role in our offense this year and to be a freshman to be in the top three in scoring for your team is very impressive,” Schroeder said. “She has the intangibles of being able to get the cheap goals [as well as] effort goals – and being able to do that on top of the talent she brings made her successful this year and will continue to make her successful in years to come.”
St. Charles Community College signs soccer recruits for fallSt. Charles Community College’s women’s soccer recently welcomed four signees for the fall 2016 season. Those recruits include Amanda Heider, Breana Colombo, Kelli Jungewaelter and Samantha Garvilla.
“All four players are going to elevate our games,” head coach Josh Tyler said. “They are all quality players that should step in right away and make an immediate impact on the field.”
Amanda Heider, of Hazelwood West High, also played club ball at Missouri Rush for Coach Diane Monahan. At Hazelwood West, she was part of an All-Academic Award Team. In 2014, she was awarded Second-Team All Conference, and in 2015, she was awarded First-Team All Conference.
“Amanda came to our winter session at SCC, and I immediately noticed her work ethic,” Tyler said. “She has great field presence, and I believe she is prepared to work hard at the next level.”
Breana Colombo, of Oakville Senior High, also played club ball with the AFA Fillies Soccer Club for Coach Jason Wyland, the women’s soccer’s assistant coach at SCC.“Bre has been battling to get back to the level she was at, and I have full confidence she will be a great asset for SCC on the field,” Wyland said.
Kelli Jungewaelter was Colombo’s teammate for both Oakville and AFA Fillies and will remain her teammate at SCC.
“Kelly is one heck of a competitor,” Wyland said. “She is a hard-nosed player who stops at nothing until she wins the ball.”
Samantha Garvilla, of Francis Howell High, is a three-time State Cup Champion with the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club, coached by Scott Stephan. She attended Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, her freshman and sophomore years of high school on a soccer scholarship. After tearing her ACL for the third time, she returned to Francis Howell and switched to the goalkeeper position.
Garvilla is a two-year varsity player, who also earned All-Academic Honors.
“I have been very impressed with Sam, not only as an incredible athlete, but as a person,” Tyler said. “She has persevered through 10 surgeries and has continued to be dedicated to play at a high level. I see players quit playing after one surgery, so this is quite a testament to her dedication to be the best she can be.”
SCC starts practice on Aug. 1. The game schedule will be released in June.