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Life After Livvy

Life after Livvy has begun for the Holland girls’ varsity soccer team, and it began with a victory.

Julia Grupp and Laura Schiltz each scored twice as the Lady Dutchmen blanked Tonawanda 4-0 in the ECIC Division IV opener for both clubs on Aug.31. Big for a couple reasons, the most obvious being that started the Lady Dutchmen off on the right foot in league play. More importantly it showed every girl on the team that they were capable of winning after losing Olivia “Livvy” Schmidt to graduation.

One of the most accomplished student-athletes to ever compete in WNY, Schmidt broke the 2,000-point mark in basketball, is the all-time leading scorer in girls soccer and was a central figure in Holland winning the 2013 NYSPHSAA Class C title in soccer.

But Schmidt has moved on to college soccer, Indiana Wesleyan University, leaving the team to field the obvious question of how will they do without her? So far the answer is a resounding very well.

“It was awesome to win our first game,” returning captain, Julia Grupp said. “If we had lost it kind of would have been a let down. Everyone would have said see, Holland isn’t going to be as good without Olivia.”

Still holding Olivia in high regard as a friend and former teammate, the girls’ will certainly never forget everything Schmidt did for the program. But obviously as competitors it was important to prove their worth to themselves and to the critics who thought Holland was just a one-girl-show.

Holland coach George Schmidt, Olivia’s dad, feels getting that first win was very important to the team’s confidence. It not only showed them that they could be successful without Olivia it reminded them that they contributed to the team’s recent success and that they were capable of continued success.

Facing Tonawanda, the 2015 Section VI Class B runner-up, on the road was exactly the kind of test Holland needed early on to bolster their confidence.

“I was very nervous when I saw that this was the first game on the schedule and that we had to come up here and play on their turf. And we’re not used to turf because we play on grass, and (THS) always gives us a tough game,” Schmidt said.

Setting the tone everyday for the Lady Dutchmen will be captains Julia Grupp (M), Laura Schiltz (M/F), Mikayla Radecki (D/M), who are all seniors, and junior D/M Karolyn Schmidt, Olivia’s younger sister.

“Laura Schiltz, she’s a forward and she did very well in the summer in travel. She scored a lot of goals and she’s just getting her opportunity (to shine). She’s been in the shadows a little bit for a couple years,” Schmidt said.

“Now she’s a senior. She’s a leader. She’s a captain. For her to get the first two goals, I told her when she came off I just wanted to give her a great big hug. I said ‘hey, you’re stepping up. That’s exactly what we need.”

Still carrying the bad taste in their mouths of falling to Alleghany-Limestone in the Section VI Class C title game, Coach Schmidt said he believes his girls are self-motivated and don’t really need any prodding from him to get their competitive fires burning.

Sophomore Madi Perry will be between the pipes as the starting goalie, with juniors Cassidy Slocum, Kaeli Winter and Haley Shanahan in front of her as the heart of the Holland defensive unit.

“We have a lot of seniors and we have a lot of good juniors on our team,” Grupp said. “So we still have talent and I think we can do as good as we’ve been doing in the past.”

Going with the motto of “finish” the Lady Dutchmen are driven to finish the job this season and capture the championships that eluded them last year.

“Yeah, the seniors want to get a sectional championship they can call all their own and a league championship and the next step after that,” Schmidt said.

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