Photo by Christine Troyke
The commute to Atlanta Silverbacks practices is a breeze for Alexa Newfield and Nicole Locandro, particularly in comparison to their trips for club soccer workouts.
The W-League team's park is situated beside the I-85 and I-285 interchange, its location trimming plenty of time off their drives of the past few years to practice with the Gwinnett Soccer Association 1992 Red team across the road from Parkview in Lilburn. Newfield came to GSA from her Atlanta home and Locandro was even farther away in Kennesaw.
"I got used to it after awhile," Locandro said of the long drive to the GSA fields. "The first couple of times it seemed pretty bad. And some of the practices were in rush hour, that was bad. But now I've kind of gotten used to it. It isn't too bad."
Neither is her summer.
Locandro recently joined the Silverbacks -- who are 6-1-1 and leading the Eastern Conference's Atlantic Division entering today's home game vs. Charlotte -- and reunited with her good friend Newfield. The two players met through club ball and shared the common thread of their commutes to play for a GSA team that featured predominantly players from Gwinnett high schools.
Locandro played at Walker, helping the team to the past three state titles, and Newfield recently finished leading St. Pius to back-to-back state crowns. Their friendship will continue to Athens, where they will be roommates and join a Georgia soccer team that also will feature several other players with Gwinnett ties like Madeline Barker of Greater Atlanta Christian, Marah Falle and Ashley Baker of Parkview and Gwinnett resident Laura Eddy, who went to Marist.
"It should be exciting," Newfield said of UGA's hopes for the season. "We've got a good class coming in (that includes fellow freshman Barker) and there are a lot of quality players in the older classes. We should have a great season."
Newfield joined the Silverbacks with the recommendation of the team's assistant coach Campbell Chapman, also the director of girls coaching at GSA. She has built an impressive season, ranking second on the team with 11 points, on three goals and a team-high five assists.
The midfielder was a W-League team of the week selection earlier in the season.
"The pace of the game is a lot faster and because you're playing older girls, it's good preparation for college," Newfield said. "It's a fast and physical game."
Her good friend Locandro learned that when the Silverbacks recently added her to the roster. How much she contributes in the season's final few games is an unknown, but she's eager for the W-League playoffs.
"I think this is a great way to get ready for next month (at Georgia)," Locandro said. "I've never played with much older girls, so I think this will help me a lot when I go to college."