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FOOTBALL: Weber prepares for second season in Nebraska | Gretna

Sarah Weber, the Spring 2021 State Champion with the Gretna Women’s Soccer Team, was named to the Big Ten Freshman Team for the Fall 2021 Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Now Weber is gearing up for his second season at Lincoln and is looking to keep getting better.

Enrolling at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Cornhuskers head coach John Walker saw Weber as a “universal talent.”

“In terms of football, (she) is technically quite strong, finishes well, can finish off with both feet (and) her head, but is also tactically good,” said Walker, who has coached at UNL for 27 years. “And then competitively (she) is strong and also (has) some leadership qualities.”

Walker added that Weber was more athletic than he and his coaching staff thought, and that the striker could use feedback during training camp.

“Our first time we really worked with her was on the first day of our fall training camp, which was early August,” Walker said. “And there were things that she will tell you needed to be improved, like the different techniques for hitting the ball, competitive play, front defense. But the things she could do well were already there. She just deserved to play right off the bat and you could see she could make an impact.”

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After Weber scored a career-high 48 goals and 29 assists in her senior season for the state-champion Dragons, the tally fell to six goals and two assists, but Walker said it was typical of a high school-to-college transition.

Weber said that her success in Gretna gave her mental strength and “a good confidence” because she wanted to continue her success.

Weber added that the success Gretna has had this year has been in part due to similar training, such as learning to play and tactics, to what Walker offers.

“The type of program they have definitely sets us girls up for better success in the future,” Weber said. “I know the new manager (Chace Hutchison) is very attentive to detail and specific to what he asks of his players and I think what they did last season in terms of preparing for their games will have a lot of value if they choose to play in college.”

Weber was able to watch a couple of Gretna games this year and said the Dragons felt like “one tight-knit team” and said she was looking forward to their future.

Her own transition to the next level was not easy, but her Gretna experience, combined with Walker’s coaching, made the transition easier.

“I wanted to see what I could do at the college level,” she said. “So the confidence I got in high school definitely helped me with that… (The transition) was difficult in the sense that the college level requires a lot of physical and mental effort. But I played quite a few games that helped. So the transition was easy in the sense that I had already played many high school football games, but difficult in the sense that the girls were much faster and stronger. And then the tactics that Coach Walker asked us for were kind of next level.”

“I think that was one thing that she adapted a bit to understanding,” Walker said. “She won’t have the same scoring chances as in high school or at the club, those (chances) will be more limited. Therefore, the quality of your implementation, the quality of your game in the last third of the field, must be very high, because you simply do not have many chances. … The first year was a very good year for her, but I think she will tell you. … she probably left at least six or seven heads on the table.”

Weber also acknowledged the need to improve the quality of her shots and how deadly she could be in the final third.

“Personally, I focused on a few things within the team and how our coach wants us to play,” she said. “The important thing is the increase in the number of goals compared to my shots that I made, it’s more (clinical). … As a team, we want to get into the Big Ten tournament and not only do it, but succeed in it because we all know we can and at the moment it’s just a question.”

Weber added that after only one game before the tournament, the team pays attention to details such as “five minutes at the end of the game.” Individually, she also works on her focus in situations such as one-on-one defense and emphasis on quality shots.

As a two-time Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year and a two-time All-Star in Gretna, Weber came in with high expectations but knew the college game would be “a whole other level.”

“Certainly it was great to receive these awards, and I was very honored that at least half of them were considered,” Weber said. “But when I got into college, I still took that into account in terms of confidence, but playing in college is just on a whole different level, and in short, the other team doesn’t necessarily care about what I did in high school. “.

Weber added that she used this as motivation to get better.

Regardless of expectations, Weber had a “very good” first season, with Walker saying she was playing at a “very, very high level” by the end of the season.

“I think her potential is very, very high,” Walker said. “And I think it’s really high for her, not only because of the ability (she has), but because of her training habits, her work ethic, her character… She has a way of normalizing enthusiasm, so even the most mundane tasks or exercises, she has a way of saying “I’m going to do it right and I’m also going to enjoy it and I’m going to make my teammates also enjoy it.”

“My mental game was put to the test when our season fell into the fall,” Weber added. “I didn’t have enough time to realize what was going on. The speed of the game is much faster… You want to come in with a mindset that is just hungry and wants to get better.”

She added that she learned to focus on the minutiae of her fitness and play in the longer off-season leading up to her sophomore season, and was open to feedback.

“I’m really just trying to take my body to the next level,” Weber said. “Because it ultimately prepares me for training like in the spring, I wanted to fully recover from the previous day so I could give it my all in the next workout and get the most out of it.”

Walker said that Weber is “versatile in every aspect of the game” and that her growth will be incremental as she improves her skills and understands “what she’s capable of”. The Cornhuskers head coach also stated that there should be “no limits” for the sophomore forward.

“I think she has a chance to really become a great player, to make an impact in our conference,” he said. “And if you’re an influencer in our conference because the conference is so strong, that means you probably have a chance to become an influencer at the national level as well.”

Off the field, Weber was able to take a break from football (for the most part) when she went on a missionary trip to Honduras during the state football tournament week.

Through Christine Kramer and the Newman Center in Lincoln, Weber and the mission team were in Honduras for a week to organize sports camps and teach prayer lessons and “valuable lessons” from the scriptures.

“This week has been probably the most inspiring and life-changing week of my life,” Weber said. “I was in a state of peace that had not been spiritually for a long time. The whole year was hectic, freshman year of college, straight to football and high school. So I really used that as a time to get my relationship with God back on track and my prayer life definitely took off.”

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