The 2008 Lenape grade takes over as head coach for an Indians team with high expectations in 2018.
During the 2018 preseason, it was common to see Jen Pfeiffer take the field and get into the action during drills for Lenape High School girls soccer.
It’s been more than a decade since Pfeiffer, a former all-conference player and 2008 Lenape graduate, last took the field for the Indians. However, Pfeiffer is now ready to lead Lenape in an entirely new role as the program’s varsity head coach.
Pfeiffer has some big shoes to fill this year. She has taken over the job from Kevin Meder, who stepped down as head coach following the 2017 season. Meder was head coach for 13 years and guided the Indians to five consecutive Group IV state championships from 2007 through 2011.
Pfeiffer had a strong relationship with Meder. She was on the first of those state championship teams in 2007 and went on to play Division I soccer at St. Joseph’s University. Pfeiffer returned to Lenape after college and served under Meder the past few seasons as the JV coach.
“We do want to emulate what Kevin Meder did,” Pfeiffer said. “I just like that I get to put my own personality into it now. A lot of it is from what he did teach me, to be honest.”
“There are definitely differences,” Pfeiffer added. “I’ve been bringing in some of the drills I learned in college that I think will translate. We’re trying out different formations for the girls. Right now, we’re upperclassmen heavy, so the good news is I have leadership.”
Lenape will likely be one of the most experienced teams in South Jersey this season. Lenape’s roster consists of nearly all juniors and seniors, many of whom were starters during the Indians’ 8–11 season last year. With so many older players on the team, Pfeiffer is confident in the leadership skills of the team’s seven seniors.
“We’re giving them a lot of ownership and a lot of accountability, and we’ll put in the work as coaches to help them out,” she said.
Despite the high number of returning players, the Indians will be doing some things different this year, with one of the biggest changes being a new formation.
“Right now, we’re going to be a defensive team,” senior Sude Yalcin said. “We have a new formation, 4–1–4–1, so our key in the back is communication. It all starts with us and then we’re going to move the ball up forward.”
“We have the right girls to play the way we want to play,” senior Lexi Adelman added, “so (Pfeiffer)’s just pushing us hard and making us work.”
A big focus of the preseason was strengthening the team’s chemistry. Pfeiffer described many of the team’s preseason activities as “competitively fun” to build stronger bonds between the players. Pfeiffer believes the key to the Indians’ success this season will depend on how well the players communicate.
“With these guys, we’ve really been focusing on our communication that when we’re playing on the field, we have to be fit with our formation,” Pfeiffer said.
There’s a hunger within Lenape’s upperclassmen in 2018. The Indians have a storied legacy, winning eight consecutive South Jersey Group IV championships from 2007 to 2014. However, the current crop of players was not part of those teams and they are prepared to add their own achievements to the history books.
“We only lost one senior and a lot of schools around here lost a lot of seniors,” Adelman said. “So now is our time.”