For the second consecutive season, the girls’ soccer team’s first loss came at home against Mira Costa, this year by a score of 5-0. Going into this seasons Dec. 13 matchup, Wolverines took the field against the Mustangs following two consecutive shutouts to begin their campaign for a CIF championship, following last year’s semifinals loss to Chaminade.
The team defeated El Camino Real 3-0 on the road in its season opener, and Oaks Christian 2-0 in its first home game. Players primarily attribute the victories to forward Courtney O’Brien ’15, who has scored three of the team’s five goals on the year, and stellar goaltending.
“We were a lot more focused in the first two games,” Head Coach Richard Simms said. “Jackie Ridgley [’14] played well in goal.”
However, players also acknowledged a large discrepancy in talent between the rosters of their first two opponents, and their own, which features multiple players committed to Division I colleges, in addition to individual award winners within the competitive Mission League. The Wolverines also cited this as a reason for their flat performance against Mira Costa.
“We have so much talent on our team,” O’Brien said. “I think that we started out this season feeling somewhat entitled to winning games because of the talent we have, which is not the mindset we need to be in to win games against great teams like Mira Costa.”
Fullback Malanna Wheat ’14, echoed similar ideas.
“So far the season is where it should be,” she said. “We started off strong winning our first two games but in a way I’m happy we lost last Friday. It reminded us of that feeling last year brought and we’re aiming for a different season this year. I think the message received was that we don’t deserve to win unless we show up ready to play and prove it and we fell short Friday night.”
Simms says injuries have also been an issue.
“We have some players that spent a significant time out injured in the fall,” he said.
“They are not as close to being 100 percent as I had thought so that will take a bit more time. The goal is to be healthy and clicking when the playoffs arrive.”
Blending talent is something players say will be the team’s primary challenge this season, especially at the beginning. The team has been adapting to major stylistic changes implemented by Simms.
“I think our team is still getting used to playing together again,” O’Brien said, alluding to the fact that most of the girls have been playing on separate club teams. “We’ve only had one or two practices with our entire team present and are still getting used to our new formation.
“Following the loss, the girls’ enter the Mater Dei Invitational with a 2-1 record, with an opening matchup against Los Alamitos today. The team is also scheduled to play Foothill and Bishop
Amat, both teams, along with Los Alamitos, which last year’s squad did not face.
Despite the loss, the Wolverines still consider themselves major contenders in CIF.
“Our expectations are the same,” said Brianna Gazmarian ’15. “We all believe in one another and know that if we dig deep enough we will go far.”