The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Girls’ soccer prepares for new season

Striker Vicky Pugh ’25, who is committed to play Division 1 Women’s soccer at Vanderbilt University, looks to make a pass during a game against Chaminade High School on Jan. 18.

It was hailing in Marietta during the 2023 Girls’ Soccer Mission League playoffs. Despite the freezing temperatures, Head Coach Richard Simms said he was confident of his team’s ability to win.

“The team made a deep run last season because we built an incredible mental toughness,” Simms said. “We fell behind, we gave up late goals, we went to penalty shootouts and we kept finding a way to win. I felt last season like no matter how difficult the circumstances were, I knew we were going to find a way. I never had any doubt in my mind.”

The team finished their season with an overall record of 16-7-3. Layla Anani ’26 said because of the number of freshmen on the team this season, leadership roles on the team may not be limited by class.

“I think that a leader needs to be on the team, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a senior,” Anani said. “Someone besides the coaches should take initiative. Leadership was really central to [last] season.”

Dani Lynch ’23 and Alex Astallos ’23 were last year’s co-captains. Simms said leading this year’s team will not be difficult given the group’s talent and tight bond.

“I do think that we lost the leaders [Astallos] and [Lynch], for sure who were the vocal leaders, spiritual leaders and energy leaders. I just think we have so many great kids that [leading the group] will happen somewhat organically over the next few weeks,” Simms said. “The group is so motivated and so energetic. It’s not like you need a miracle worker who’s going to turn it around or create something that doesn’t exist. It already exists. It just needs to be cultivated and encouraged.”

Jaida Pryor ’24 said because there are only four seniors on the team this year, she is looking forward to seeing the underclassmen take on a larger role on the team.

“Our team is very young, and we have a lot of talent in the younger grades,” Pryor said. “I feel like [the seniors] had a really important role last year, but a lot of our players are going to step up and fill in for them.”

The team will travel to Arizona this winter for their first out of state tournament since before the pandemic. Ashle Reese ’25 said she is looking forward to bonding as a team and building camaraderie on the trip.

“This season I’m most excited for the Arizona trip the day after Christmas,” Reese said. “It’s going to be great team bonding. Making sure we intermix ourselves with the new freshman and make an effort to know everyone is so important for the team’s success.”

The team will face Punahou High School on Nov. 29.


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