By Kyle LoJacono
Power and speed. Strength and quickness. Muscle and swiftness.
The words are contradictions, and yet they describe qualities of successful soccer players.
The Steinbrenner girls soccer team has a pair of midfielders who exhibit these traits, and their differences allow them to be huge impacts on the field.
The power, strength and muscle come from junior Dani Eule, while the speed, quickness and swiftness are qualities of senior Marley Opila.
“Having two central midfielders like that makes the team go,” said first-year Warriors coach Angela Gillisse. She added, “I feel like they’re twins or grew up together or something, because they seem to always know what the other is doing. They’re a really neat pair to watch play together. I think Marley is a finesse player and Dani is very physical and in your face. Marley knows when Dani is going in hard she needs to sit back and be that finesse-type player and vice versa. They have this communication that I can’t figure out, but I love it.”
Their differences and ability to work to each other’s strengths has benefitted Steinbrenner’s offense.
“Dani is so physical and so strong on the ball, and Marley is very fast and technical,” said senior forward Alexis Bredeau. “I think they really balance each other out. For me it’s great because they can set me up basically any time I want. They’re such amazing players and great people off the field as well.”
The duo has been a huge part in the Warriors’ (10-4) ascension as one of the top programs in the state, but they didn’t actually play together until last season.
They had no experience together before high school because they compete for different club programs. The midfielders missed the chance to play together when Opila tore the ACL in her left knee conditioning in preparation for the 2010-11 season.
“I’d heard of her and read about her in the newspaper before I came here, so I was excited to get to play with her,” said Eule, who started playing at age 5. “We really worked together well right from the very beginning. … We cover for each other, and what one lacks the other makes up for.”
Opila, who picked up soccer at age 6, had a little tougher time adjusting to Eule’s unique brand of play.
“It was actually pretty tough playing with her at first because I’m not used to playing with a player as physical as her,” said Opila, a Jacksonville University commit. “I kind of stood back at first because she’s so physical and so into the game. I got over that, and now I couldn’t ask for anything more from her. We’re complete opposites, so together we can kind of make one mega player. … I wouldn’t want to play midfield with anyone else.”
Their personalities off the field are also opposites.
“Marley is so quiet,” Bredeau said. “Not to put her on blast or anything, but she’s so quiet. Dani is the funniest person and outgoing, and they’re both great to be around.”
Production has followed the two the midfielders this season, with Eule racking up nine goals and seven assists and Opila having three goals and nine assists.
They are both very different on and off the field, but the midfielders agreed the most satisfying thing they can do is set their teammates up to score.
“Our forwards are making those runs all day long, so me and Marley want to give them the perfect pass,” Eule said. “They’re working hard to get by the defense, and if we’re off then it messes up the whole play. When the pass is a good one it’s the best thing.”
Eule, Opila and the Warriors host Wharton Jan. 9 at 6 p.m.