They don’t look alike. They own different personalities. And they all play different positions.
Without seeing a roster, few would predict the three were related, let alone triplets. But the Elwers — Evelyn, Grace and Lauren — were each born within a minute of each other, and each plays a key position for the FC Nova U-14 girls club soccer team at the Far West Regional soccer tournament this week at Boise’s Simplot Sports Complex.
“They are our spine and rarely come off the field, if at all,” said Gavin Kempe, their coach and technical director for FC Nova.
Evelyn, the oldest of the fraternal triplets, forms the last line of Nova’s defense as a center back. She uses her height — 5-foot-8 — to clear balls out of the air and erase any threats to goal. She’s also the team captain and takes corner kicks as the only left-footed player of the three sisters.
Grace, the youngest, also stands 5-8 and plays a holding midfield position, tracking back to help the defense when needed but also springing counterattacks with her long, fluid strides.
Lauren stands out as the runt of the litter at 5-4. But what she lacks in height she makes up for with her technical skills, creativity and sheer speed as a attacking midfielder/striker and Nova’s top threat to score.
“All three of their attributes are very, very different, but they play into the role that they play,” Kempe said. “It’s actually nice to not have similar triplets. They all add a different layer.”
Their differences extend to their personalities, too, Kempe said. As the oldest, Evelyn stays cool under pressure. Grace is the happy-go-lucky one who takes everything in stride. And Lauren, the smallest one who always had to fight for her place, remains ultra competitive and scrappy.
“It’s funny to hear them call out each other during trainings,” Kempe said. “They definitely can talk to each other in a different way than other teammates can talk to each other. Because they’re so comfortable, they will call each out a little more forcefully.”
The trio started playing together as 3-year-olds in the Meridian Police Activities League, and they’ve remained on the same team every since. They formed their skills not only in those youth soccer leagues, but also in intense competitions in the backyard.
“It always ended it fights,” Grace said with a laugh.
“It was really competitive,” Evelyn quickly added. “But we all did them together. We’d get too intense because we lost.”
They only time they’ve split comes on club road trips, when they’ve asked Kempe not to room together for a change of pace, and this spring as freshmen at Bishop Kelly. Evelyn and Grace played tennis, while Lauren showcased her speed in track.
“Their parents actually do a very good job at supporting (their separate interests),” Kempe said. “Because they know when they go off to college, odds are they’re going to be playing at different places because each one of them has different characteristics that different schools will appreciate.”
Nova will need of three of their characteristics after a rough start to regionals. Nova fell 7-0 to Southern California’s Legends FC on Monday in the third regional tournament for the Elwers, who played up as 12-year-olds with the U-13s in 2014.
Nova faces Northern California’s USA Stars at 2 p.m. Tuesday in a must-win game in order to advance to the weekend’s knockout rounds.
“We just have to forget about it,” Evelyn said about the loss, “but also learn from what we did wrong.”
SOLID START FOR IDAHO
The 17 Idaho teams — 16 from the Treasure Valley — combined to go 6-10-1 on the first day at the regional tournament, which returns to the Simplot Sports Complex for the second straight year.
The surprise of the day came from a newcomer, Indie Chicas’ U-13 girls, which routed Montana’s Magic City 6-1.
The Idaho Rush’s U-18 boys scored another surprise after qualifying for the tournament as a wildcard. It earned a 2-1 win over Fresno Metro of Northern California.
The Boise Nationals, Idaho’s U-18 state champ, lost its opener 4-1 to Arizona’s Tucson Soccer Academy. The two teams are in the same group, setting up a potential 1:15 p.m. Wednesday showdown between the Nationals and Rush for a spot in the quarterfinals.