TROY, ILL. • Besides being teammates and friends, the five players from the Triad girls soccer team who signed to play in college have one other thing in common.
All but one want careers in the medical or dental field.
Brianna Merchant is keeping her options open for perhaps a career in sports management. Merchant is headed to Parkland College in Champaign and hopes in two years to be attending the school across town — the University of Illinois.
Also signing in the schools commons Wednesday afternoon were goalkeeper Skye Clark with UMSL; goalkeeper Gabby Kayser with Mississippi College; defender Meagan Simmons with Lakeland College of Sheboygan, Wisconsin; and midfielder/forward Allison Wendt with SIU Edwardsville.
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Wendt specifically chose Edwardsville because of the school's acclaimed dental school and plans to get into orthodontics. Kayser is looking at pre-med, Simmons pre-dental with a trip back to SIUE in two years and Clark likes UMSL's nursing program.
"It something I've always been interested in," Wendt said. "Then when I got braces, I was fascinated with orthodontics."
Fixing teeth and the infirm is still a few years off. This spring, however, the quintet is hoping to lead the Knights to new heights.
With five players headed on for collegiate soccer and a bevy of talented juniors, Triad is primed for a big season.
"I'm expecting great things from us," Kayser said. "We all really want to go further than we have been the last couple of years. We always get stopped in the sectionals or supers and we want to go to state."
Pushing its stranglehold on the Mississippi Valley Conference to 18 years is another must, but the biggest pest on its checklist is Chatham Glenwood — the team that has ended Triad's last three seasons.
"We hope that this year it's our time," Simmons said.
One unfortunate factor is Merchant will be out the entire season. She had surgery two weeks ago on a lower right leg injury will leave her out of action for six months.
"I'll be the team's best cheerleader," Merchant said.
Simmons, Kayser and Wendt have not only been playing on the Knights varsity for multiple years, but the trio has played for the Panathinaikos FC club team for 10 years.
Merchant joined in the past two years. Before that she played on a Scott Gallagher club team with Clark.
"We know each other really well and that always helps, Wendt said.
While the group is mainly focused on defense, Wendt is the one player who specializes on offense, although Simmons plays some midfield and will come forward at times. Wendt will be the team's top scoring threat, but she's equally adept at setting up her teammates.
In three seasons on varsity, Wendt has scored 30 goals and she's also dished out 36 assists and has been the team leader in that category all three seasons.
Kayser and Clark usually play a half each in goal. Last season, the duo shared nine shutouts and had two solo shutouts each. Kayser played 990 minutes and Clark had 861.