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Getting defensive helps Ellis land spot at USC-L

Posted: May 17, 2018 10:12 a.m.
Updated: May 18, 2018 1:00 a.m.

CAMDEN HIGH’S DAYSHA ELLIS signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her academic and soccer-playing pursuits at USC-Lancaster while flanked by her parents, Amanda and Billy Collini. Looking from behind is Lady Bulldog soccer coach Aaron Mayes.

As he and assistant coach Kenny Galdeen looked for answers to help solidify his team’s defense in the spring of 2017, Camden High girls’ soccer coach Aaron Mayes asked then-junior forward Daysha Ellis to give playing on the second-to-last line of defense a try.

Within minutes, Mayes found an answer to part of his team’s defensive issues as Ellis stayed put and became a staple on defense for the Lady Bulldogs.

The move paid off not just for Camden but for Ellis and, in the immediate future, for USC-Lancaster which signed the Lady Bulldog senior to a National Letter of Intent.

“We moved Daysha to defense that toward the end of (the 2017 season) when one of my former assistant coaches, Kenny Galdeen, said ‘Let’s try her back there,’” Mayes said of the switch in position for Ellis. “After watching her for 10 minutes, it was like, ‘What have we been doing for the last three years?’”

Actually, Ellis could have been playing longer than the four spring campaigns which she did at Camden. In fact, a breakdown in communication led to her soccer-playing days getting off to a later start than she would have preferred.

“I wanted to play my seventh grade year,” said Ellis who never played the sport until her freshman year at Camden High, “but I didn’t hear about the tryouts and everything else. I missed both my seventh and eighth grade years.”

Once at CHS, Ellis made up for lost time. She tried out for the Lady Bulldogs as a freshman and earned a starting spot on the front line. She would be an attacker for the better part of her first two-plus seasons for Mayes’ troops before the move was made to put her on defense. “I played all positions here. I played forward, right striker, right wing, right defense left defense,” she said of the many roles which she undertook at Camden High.

“When Daysha first showed up, her skills were unrefined,” Mayes said. “She had not played a whole lot of soccer but she is the kind of person who keeps asking and asking again, what can she do to get better. I think she embodies what the perfect teammate is; she is always helping and she is always there for everybody else.”

Her versatility and unselfish attitude did not go unnoticed as USC-Lancaster head women’s soccer coach  Alex Tarque came calling and invited Ellis to visit the campus and take a long look at the Lancers’ women’s soccer program. Ellis came away impressed.

“It’s a nice campus,” she said of the school while adding her reason for choosing USC-Lancaster was to further her academic and soccer-playing pursuits.

Just where Tarque will use Ellis on the field will be determined once the former Lady Bulldog arrives on campus for the start of practice for the 2018 fall campaign. Tarque will have options as to where Ellis fits best but, she said her preference would be to help keep attackers from the Lancers’ goalkeeper and make her job between the posts easier.

“Probably defense, because I have more experience there,” Ellis said of her favorite position on the field. “I just like it better there than being at top.”

Ellis was then asked why she chose to do the dirty work rather than being the player who scores the goals and is more the focus on the pitch. “I don’t really care too much about all that. I just want to go out there and play,” she said.

Mayes, for one, believes Ellis is the type of player who a coach like Tarque will find a place for her to play. Once Ellis gets settled into college life, on and off the field, Mayes said the sky is the limit for his former defensive standout

“Daysha has all the intangibles. She’s somebody who is dependable and who always shows up on time,” he said. “Probably the biggest adjustment for her will be being away from home but the soccer aspect, the level of play goes way up and the commitment level goes up, too. Instead of it being a one season sport, in college, it’s year ‘round. I think that will be a little bit of an adjustment for her.”


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