At the start of the year, girls’ soccer players and coaches said that winning a Mission League Championship was a major goal for the team this season, and an important first step towards their main aspiration, winning a CIF Championship ring. With a home win against Flintridge Sacred Heart on Friday, Feb. 7, the only team to defeat last year’s league champions in league play, the Wolverine’s win made that first step in clinching the title.
Although the team is focused on preparing for its final regular season matchup, a non-league affair with Valencia on Saturday, Feb. 15, no players or coaches are hiding the fact that earning League Title has them excited for the playoffs, which begin Feb. 21. At this time their opponent and the location of the game have yet to be announced.
“We are excited for the playoffs,” Head Coach Richard Simms said. “We hope everyone will come out and support us.”
The team finished its League season with a record of 9-0-1, undefeated with its only non-victory being a tie against Chaminade, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season in a battle so close that it required penalty kicks to resolve. As of press time, the team’s overall record on the year is 16-1-2, with its only loss being a 0-5 loss to Mira Costa in its third game of the year Dec. 13.
“I think winning the Mission League only encourages us to work harder to prepare for playoffs,” Emma Sanderson ’14 said. “Just as winning the Mater Dei tournament prepared us for league, I believe getting first in the Mission League motivates us to win CIF. I think mentally we have celebrated our win and now we focus on how we can grow as a team and as individuals to better ourselves for the playoffs”
According to MaxPreps.com, as of Feb. 4, the team is ranked 10th nationally, fourth in the state of California and second in Southern Section Division 1, the pool the team would have to go through to accomplish its goal of winning CIF Championship rings for its players and coaches.
These rankings were most likely influenced by the team’s dominance in what is considered a league full of talented teams, including the aforementioned Chaminade, a team also ranked in the top ten of Southern Section Division I. Although the league title does create excitement in the players for playoffs to begin, players say they have been ready to take on the challenge since before the season started.
“It definitely feels good to have won league,” Northwestern commit Mackenzie Howe ’14 said. “But I think we would be confident regardless heading into playoffs.”
Following such a spectacular season, players aren’t the only ones who are confident heading into bracket season.
“The league season doesn’t have a lot to do with the playoffs,” Simms said. “I believe we have a great team so confidence is high.”
Both Simms and the players deserve to be confident following a season of dominance on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
The squad finished league with 59 goals scored versus just just four goals that they allowed.
The Wolverines’ offense, led by Princeton commit Courtney O’Brien ’15, scored an average of 3.2 goals per game as of press time, while its defense, led by Lucy Putnam ’14 and keeper Jackie Ridgley ’14, has only allowed 12 goals thus far, an average of less than one per game.
Simms did, however, feel the team still had some room for improvement entering the postseason.
“We need to stay calm and composed in pressure situations and not resort to long balls,” he said.
As for extra motivation as the team approaches the postseason and as a result its pre-season goal of winning a CIF Championship, Simms says his girls need none.
“I think the seniors are starting to see the end of their Harvard-Westlake careers drawing to a close,” he said. “As a result they are really appreciating every day and working very hard.”