Kicking off their season, the girl’s soccer team has been practicing nonstop. The team has been preparing like the many other fall sports that’s season starts at the beginning of the school year, having many non-mandatory practices throughout the summer.
The start of a new season allows for the team to work on skills they may have lacked last year.
“The practices have been pretty good so far,” sophomore Mary Zaleski said. “They’re really intense. We do a lot of running exercises. This year we’re doing a lot more conditioning than last year so that girls can work up endurance when they’re on the field.”
The assistant soccer coach Lydia Harvey believes these practices have already had a positive impact on the girls.
“People have been showing up,” she said. “We’ve been working all summer. We’ve had a bunch of scrimmages and we’ve seen lots of improvement as we’ve had more and more exposure to play. A big thing for us in terms of practice has been scrimmaging. The best way to get in shape for soccer and learn soccer is to just be thrown into it and to play. We’ve also been doing some fitness work as we’ve come closer to season and a lot of tactical ball work and skills.”
Not only are the practices different, but the team itself.
“This season will be different because last year we lost a lot of seniors,” Zaleski said. “And so this year it’s a lot of training new girls”
Harvey believes this season will be focused more on building the team.
“This season is going to be a season of growth for our team,” she said. “We’re learning how we work as a team and with new players, how they fit into that dynamic. That’s going to be one of the big things that we are working on figuring out, but as people step into leadership roles I hope we just improve and go up from there.”
The season will also be a learning experience for Harvey.
“I definitely have to think a little more strategically about how I’m going about things in a sense,” she said. “Just understanding that I’m managing more than one person and not just myself. There’s a lot more thinking on the big picture with tactical play, and knowing how we need to address different things with different people.”
For some players, it will be their last soccer season. Senior Hannah Trotter hopes for a successful season.
“I just hope we have a winning season,” she said. “And improve as a team over this soccer season.”
Although it’s just the beginning of the season, the team’s strengths are already shining through.
“One of our strengths is the community of the team that we have and how we’re supportive of each other,” Harvey said. “And pushing each other. Having everyone step up to being a leader.”
Zaleski agrees, believing that many people took on important leadership roles.
“Our biggest strength is that we have a lot of really strong upperclassmen who are going to be teaching and guiding the new girls,” she said.
However, no team is perfect.
“Our offense can dominate,” Trotter said. “They’re great. But our defense is filled with new players that are still learning soccer as a sport so our defense can always improve.”
Overall, Harvey believes the team has a lot of potential.
“We have a really good team,” she said. “Everyone seems pretty positive. I’ve really loved coming into the community that’s built around this team. They’re supportive of each other and I’m excited about the season.”
Some people joined soccer because they enjoy the environment.
“I joined soccer because I really like being outside,” Zaleski said. “And the team is really close, and soccer is just a really fun sport that everyone can have fun with.”
Others have played the sport for the majority of their lives.
“I joined soccer because I’ve played soccer since I was three,” Trotter said. “And I really enjoy the sport and the people.”
For Harvey, she enjoyed her experience playing it throughout her education.
“I actually just graduated from Earlham college and I played soccer all through my undergrad there,” she said. ”I just knew as [the]season was coming to an end that I didn’t want to leave soccer behind. The team and everything has been a really influential experience for me playing soccer and it’s done a lot for my self-confidence as a female and a female athlete. I want to give that back to younger girls.”
Zaleski recommends joining the team if you’re interested.
“It’s a really fun game and the girls are really inclusive,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the best soccer player or just starting, everyone gets along We’re super well. It would be a great sport to try.”
Others agree with Zaleski, believing it will be a good experience for anyone who tries it.
“Come join,” Harvey said. “It’s a lot of fun. I’ve always had a positive experience with it and I think the girls that are here have a positive experience with it. It’s a fun time to make twenty-plus new best friends.”