By Austin Block
Last year, the varsity girlsâ soccer team almost reached the peak of California high school soccer, winning the Southern California Division II Regional Championship, reaching the CIF finals, and compiling a 19-5-3 overall record and 5-3-2 league record during the season.
The team marched triumphantly down the fire road along with the girlsâ and boysâ basketball teams during a celebration this spring.
This yearâs challenge is to maintain that status and capture the CIF and Mission League Championships.
The team finished third in the Mission League last year behind Flintridge Sacred Heart and Chaminade and lost in the CIF finals to Saugus.
“Last yearâs CIF Finals loss was a tough pill to swallow and I know we are all hungry to avenge it,” Head Coach Richard Simms said.Â “Every player and every coach is even more motivated this year.”
The team is currently training four days a week, playing two days and working on strength and speed on the other two.
The team will begin practicing five days a week for two hours a day on Nov. 16. Its first league game will be Jan. 6 against Flintridge Sacred Heart. The team will play in the Mater Dei tournament from Dec. 17 to Dec. 21.
Simms said this yearâs teamâs strengths are “speed, maturity and experience as well as tremendous technical ability,” but also said the teamâs small physical size will be a disadvantage. 15 players are returning, and eight of them are starters.
“The playoff experience is crucial,” Simms said. “Of our 11 starters this year, 10 played in the CIF Final last year.Â That will be invaluable when it comes to controlling their nerves and staying in the moment.”
A few players are coming back from injuries or surgery and Simms plans to ease them back into playing.
“We are focused and extremely fit,” Simms said.Â “The girls are excited about playing together and looking forward to the season.”
Simms said team cohesion and health are the most important.
“When you have a talented team the main thing you need is good chemistry.Â Our players need to be willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the team.Â If they do that we will be successful,” Simms said.Â “We also have to stay healthy.Â Those things are a lot more important than luck.”
“This is the most talented team weâve had for a long time so weâre hoping to do well,” he said. “Itâs hard to say specifically what we can achieve because so much can and will happen between now and the end of our season.Â Our main goal is to win CIF and we believe we have a realistic chance at that.Â Anything else would be a bonus.”