Midseason bumps prevent league title

Midseason bumps prevent league title

Natalie Phillips ’21 dribbles the ball upfield during a 2-0 victory over Taft (Woodland Hills) Jan. 5. Photo Credit: Pavan Tauh/Chronicle

The girls’ soccer team finished the season with an overall record of 11-4-2, putting them at second place in the Mission League behind Flintridge Sacred Heart.

Center defensive mid Kerry Neil ’19 said that the team is disappointed that they were not able to win the Mission League for the first time in five years.

“It was really upsetting for the team knowing that we couldn’t continue that legacy, but going into playoffs now we’re all really inspired to work hard and live up to the expectations of the program,” Neil said.

Center mid Nikki Smith ’19 said that the seniors have stepped up as the leaders of the team.

“I would definitely credit our two senior captains, Denise [Shkurovich ’18] and Ariana [Miles ’18] ,” Smith said. “They’ve always been positive and always been encouraging, and they really held our team together even through the tougher parts of the season.”

Smith said she applauds all the freshmen who have made a difference on the team, specifically praising center mid and left forward Natalie Barnouw ’21 and defender Natalie Philips ’21.

Barnouw has scored multiple goals for the team and is always contributing to attacks in some way, she said.

“I would credit all of them for stepping up this season,” Smith said. “It’s not easy to come in as a freshman and have the confidence to perform consistently at the varsity level. In particular, [Barnouw] and [Phillips] have been great for us this season. Barnouw is incredibly dangerous going forward, and Phillips has been super solid for us at the back and in the midfield.”

Players also mentioned goalkeeper Devon Carmel ’21 as a valuable freshman.

“She’s made some insane saves and plays that have allowed us to keep shutouts and win games,” Neil said.

Smith said that the 8-0 victory against Alemany Wednesday gave the team a lot of confidence going into the playoffs.

“I have complete confidence in our team going into the playoffs, and I think we’re prepared to go far this year,” Smith said. “For me, the turning point of the season was the 8-0 victory over Alemany on Wednesday night. We lost to Alemany 2-1 when we played away, and it was a frustrating game. I think the 8-0 win over them at home was the turning point because it reminded us what kind of team we are, and really brought our confidence back up.”

Neil said that a recent formation change has improved the team’s offensive potential.

“We were having a lot of trouble scoring, so our coach changed our line up from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 to get us more opportunities up front,” Neil said. “We’ve adapted really well and been able to get a lot more goals because of it.”

Smith said that the synergy of the team is looking better right now than it has all season. “We struggled a bit in the middle of the season, but we overcame that adversity and I think it’s brought us together as a team,” Smith said. “Our chemistry going into playoffs is great, and we’ve found a system and a style that really plays to our strengths.”

Some team members attribute the lull in the middle of the season to the loss of a few valuable teammates to U.S. Soccer Development Academy Club.

These included Whitney Elson ’19 and Chloe Beardmore ’19.“Going in we knew things were going to be different having lost key players to Academy,” Neil said. “We started off the season really strong but unfortunately had a bit of a hiccup and lost the Mission League for the first time in about 5 years.”

Multiple players said the highlight of the season was a blowout victory over Alemany on Senior Night.

“It was so incredible to not only win 8-0 but have both of our seniors score amazing goals,” Neil said. “Alemany was the first team we lost to during the league and being able to crush them at home was the best kind of revenge for everyone.”

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