NEWTOWN SQUARE — As a freshman and sophomore last year, Delco Christian's Kailey Neef and Julia Kyne turned heads with the numbers they posted on the soccer field.
A year older and wiser, the numbers have continued to grow as well, all thanks to an attacking partnership that is barely at the halfway point of its development.
A season ago, Kyne finished third in the county with 19 goals. Neef found the back of the net nine times and assisted on 21 goals, the vast majority finished off by Kyne.
Kyne has 13 goals to her name this season, while Neef has been at the heart of the offensive efforts, pulling the strings in midfield for a team that has won six of its last eight games.
What the success comes down to is not just a strong base of club soccer but also a maturity to understand each other's roles.
"We have a really good background,' Kyne said. "We both started playing really young, so I think that's cool and interesting, and it allows us to get a good feel of the game and to be able to play with each other. I think we play pretty similarly in our style of playing and moving.'
For some, playing the role of distributor at the expense of the glory that comes with a gaudy goal total may seem unpalatable. But scoring isn't Neef's game, at least within the Knights' system. She's certainly capable of more than the two goals she's finished off this season, but her strongest role within the team is as a provider.
The Knights have scored 29 goals in 11 games this season, cultivating secondary scoring threats like Alex Thompson (seven goals) and Jillian Freeman (four) to take the pressure off Kyne.
The unselfishness is something Neef gladly embraces.
"It's really my position to see the runs going through,' Neef said. "(Scoring) is a team effort.'
The circumstances at Delco Christian have worked well for both players. Being a small school, they were given opportunities from a young age. Combine that with a slew of injuries before last season, and both Kyne and Neef were thrust into the spotlight very early in their careers.
That experience is paying dividends.
"I think it's all about leadership, and I think having the background of soccer at such a young age and having this school being so small, it allows us to step up and be those kinds of leaders in the future,' Kyne said. "It gives us a good base of where we need to go.'
The heights that they can hit together as the grow are scary. Neef isn't yet halfway through her high school career. For the next year and a half, she'll have her favorite recipient of passes at her side. It's fair to say the ceiling for their development, collective and individual, is quite high.
"There's always room for improvement,' Kyne said. "I think that if we keep playing at the pace and level that we're at, we can always take it to the next level and step up and play our hardest.'