By Lara Sokoloff
Last year, the varsity girls’ soccer team went undefeated at home until a CIF loss against Santa Margarita. The team has continued its regular season home win streak, opening its season with a 5-0 win over Valencia on Dec. 12 and 8-0 and 7-0 victories over Palisades and Notre Dame Academy.
In the Valencia game, Catherina Gores ’15 and Hannah Lichtenstein ’13 each contributed two goals, and Mackenzie Howe ’14 added the fifth.
The team stands at 4-0-1 as of press time.
“I attribute pretty much everything to the defense,” said co-captain Danielle Duhl ’12. “If the defense is staying tight and winning balls in our half, it puts much more confidence in our offense, which allows us to stay composed, keep the ball and go forward to score.”
The team emphasized defense early on, Duhl said. The team now plays a flat back-line, allowing them to stay compact and play as a unit.
The team lost defenders KC Cord ’11, Christine Kanoff ’11 and Erin Landau ’11 in addition to holding center-midfielder Katy Park ’11, leaving a large hole to be filled by underclassmen this year.
“Not only the coaches but the team is asking a lot of the underclassmen to step up into those positions, which is a big job,” returning player Briana Nesbit ’12 said. “Our defensive line is pretty young, but with no doubt talented. Our game against Oaks’ Christian definitely showed we have the potential to stop great players.”
The team’s younger defensive talent includes Mckynzie Dickman ’14, Lucy Putnam ’14 and Malanna Wheat ’14. The team overall is very young with five freshman on the team, the most in head coach Richard Simms’ history. Freshman talent includes standout Gores, who has averaged two goals per game over the first five games of the season.
“It’s a new team with a lot of young players, and we are looking to become even more of a cohesive unit than we are now,” said returning defender Nikki Goren ’12. “Chemistry plays a big part in how well teams do, so that is definitely one of our goals.”
Duhl said the girls have to remain focused to maintain their undefeated record at home.
“Defensively we want to get to the point where when the other team does something, every one of us knows where we are supposed to be and are confident that the players around us know as well,” she said. “We have to continue what we are working on as a team and get more and more comfortable with each other on the field. If we support each other and communicate, we’ll be successful.”
The girls face Canyon tomorrow as they enter the annual Mater Dei tournament.