CHAMPAIGN — Losing the reigning News-Gazette Area Player of the Year two weeks into the season might have been a crushing blow for some soccer teams.
Not for Centennial's Chargers. They've become accustomed to making changes on the fly.
Centennial showed off its sans-Dagny Olson lineup again Wednesday, dispatching rival Champaign Central 3-0 behind goals from Annie Regan, Liseli McCarthy and Katelynn Martinez. It was another display of how adaptable the Chargers (10-4-2) seem to be, molding and tweaking and reworking their lineup to fit whatever circumstances they encounter.
"We've had so many adjustments that sometimes it's hard to pick just one," coach Hsiung Marler said. "We've had five girls on crutches this year four with surgeries. You can't lessen the impact of not having the All-Area player, but at the same time, everybody was adjusting to new positions from Day 1."
The Chargers lost Olson, a 30-goal scorer a year ago, to an ankle injury April 9. But that was just one change the Chargers needed to negotiate. With nine healthy players returning from 2010, Marler needed to move other pieces around to compensate.
So he had to talk Martinez who hadn't played forward since her grade-school days into playing that position. He talked McCarthy, a lifelong defender, into playing center-midfield. He had to talk Regan, an outside midfielder, into playing defense.
Wednesday showed that the adjustments are coming along just fine, thank you. Regan scored the match's first goal on a remarkable strike from near the midfield line in the 32nd minute. McCarthy played "the best game I've seen her play," Marler said. And Martinez continued to click with fellow playmaking partner Grace Ayodele, giving the Chargers a potent offensive attack even without Olson.
"Me and Grace are really combining good together," Martinez said. "I would love to have (Olson) back. It would make us a little stronger. But I feel like we're getting used to who's on the field now."
Said Marler of the Martinez-Ayodele combo: "They've been on the field a lot together, and they've really developed some chemistry. I still think Grace is the hardest-working forward in the area, but K-Mart and Grace are working so hard together that they're feeding off of each other."
And stop reading here, Centennial rivals Olson might be back soon. She has resumed workouts, and there's a chance she'll play before the Chargers open Class 2A regional play May 18.
"I'm just trying to work hard to get back to 100 percent," Olson said. "They've done a great job, working hard to improve."
Olson's return would, of course, prompt more adjustments. Pleasant ones, no doubt, but changes nonetheless. And if she doesn't make it back? You get the feeling the Chargers will be undaunted.
"We'll be really excited to get Dagny back," Marler said. "She makes us that much better. But we've spent the whole season working with the personnel we have."