Girls soccer: Setter's play worth noticing for Waubonsie Valley
Whether she's on the soccer field or basketball court, hallway or classroom, it's hard to miss Grace Setter.
Being a 6-footer has something to do with it, but it's really much, much more than that. She's without doubt one of the best soccer players in the state, possessing a drive for success that's beyond compare. But she's also a great leader, teammate and friend whom her peers enjoy being around, teammates and coaches said.
She also is the captain of the 2019 Daily Herald DuPage County All-Area girls soccer team.
"She was probably one of the players who made me feel most welcome coming in last year as a freshman," sophomore Audrey Young said. "She always has a positive attitude and she's one of the funniest people I know on the team. She gives us that energy and positive spirit that we've used to motivate us through games."
That motivation certainly resulted in a great deal of success for the Warriors, who finished 17-3-2 with a regional title, advancing to the Class 3A East Aurora sectional before falling to Naperville North.
"You would expect to be intimidated by how good she is, because she's amazing, but she's actually really inviting," Young said. "She works to motivate her teammates more than to motivate herself."
That's saying something.
"It was pretty daunting first coming in (freshman year)," Setter said. "But it's a welcoming environment where you can fail and make mistakes and learn from them rather than be punished. So I've been able to see my growth as the seasons go by. At the beginning of this season, I could see changes in myself, stepping into that captain role and team changes with new formations and new players coming in."
Adding to her count
It's not entirely uncommon for a newcomer to jump on the high school scene and put up prodigious numbers. Setter's teammate Megan Burling, who led the Warriors with 27 goals, was one of them this season, as was St. Charles East's Elle McCaslin and Bartlett freshman Katrina Barthelt.
Setter's numbers weren't nearly as eye-popping initially. She had 7 goals and 5 assists as a freshman, but she made her presence known immediately and has continued to get even better, scoring 13 goals and adding 8 assists last year as a sophomore; she notched 19 goals and 12 assists this spring.
"I have seen a lot of changes in myself in the high school environment," she said. "I've definitely become more creative because I can't just rely on brute strength or physicality all the time. By becoming more creative it has led to more goal-scoring opportunities and I've definitely seen myself develop my passing skills."
Setter, who wants to play in college but is still in the process of looking for the right fit, did not score in any of the team's losses and she only went two or more consecutive games without a goal or an assist once this entire season.
"We were able to click as a team and have fun with each other as the season went on," she said. "I credit everyone on the team for our success from the bench to the starters. We were all so close this season and it allowed us to have fun.
"And this is such a fun group to be around that it made my job easier. Everyone was willing to learn and listen and we built off that and learned from each other, which is going to be huge going into next year."
Kennedy Metzger, a 2018 Warriors alum now playing at Ball State, got to know Setter pretty well playing alongside her. She isn't the least bit surprised to see Setter continue to blossom.
"I see a lot of similar characteristics not only in the way we play but the role we had on the team," Metzger said. "We both entered the Waubonsie Valley program at a young age and were expected to perform as well as the older players."
Metzger acknowledged that Setter's speed and size set her apart on paper, but it's what she's able to do with such attributes that make her something really special.
"She's able to keep possession of the ball and also speed past defenders," she said. "Another big impact is her maturity. She's young, but she is smart when playing and someone that everyone can look at as a role model and a leader."
Some athletes have tremendous physical attributes but struggle with the mental aspects of athletics. That doesn't seem to faze Setter, according to Brett Love, her basketball coach at Waubonsie Valley.
"Grace is an elite competitor, works hard and just flat out competes no matter what sport she's involved in," Love said. "She has a desire and will to be successful and I think that is what ultimately drives her when she is competing in athletics. Of course her size, speed and aggressiveness stands out, but mentally she stands out because mental toughness."
And she's one of those star players that connects a young team.
"Often teams struggle to have both upper- and underclassmen connect," Metzger said. "But when you have a girl like Grace who is so outgoing, it's easy for the team to come together and have unity on and off the field."
It wasn't that long ago that the junior was just a freshman like current teammates Brooke Nelson and Coco Casey.
"It's been such a fun first season for me," Casey said, "and she's a big reason why."
Added Nelson: "I would always see her in the hallways during tryouts and she would always say hi and encourage us and she's always positive. She's been pretty amazing."
She's someone who's definitely happy with where she's at right now.
"I credit all the coaches here for creating this culture," Setter said. "Even though we're all in different grades and play with other levels in club season, we're able to connect in a special way here and looking back, time already has flown by and I have so many memories to cherish."