Girls Soccer Off To Great Start

Nick Conner, Reporter

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Soccer is one of our biggest prides in athletics at Eaglecrest, and on April 2nd, the girl’s varsity team showcased an impressive presentation of skill and teamwork when they overpowered Overland High School.


The game took place at Overland High School and started at 4:30 P.M. The first half was slow starting and ended in a 1-1 tie, but the second half quickly improved and left the EHS girl’s team with a 4-1 lead by the end of the game. Tatiana Rivera, Aj Lukenbill, Kylee Smith, and Chloe Urbanski all had goals, and Macy Cummins and the Eagle Quill’s very own, Kaitlyn Weifenbach, supported the team with assists. The victory was a landslide, but it didn’t come easy. In the weeks before the game, hour after hour of practice was put in to improve and refine their skill.


Head Coach, Kari Hamilton stated before the game, “We’ve been working really on our formation, really getting more players forward for the attack. We’ve changed a little bit from last year, they’re out of their comfort zone and working on things they haven’t necessarily learned from club [soccer]. We’re really working on a lot of repetition so they get used to [the new strategies].


She explains, “It’s difficult on our practice field because we’re used to playing on turf but we have grass here for practice so the field size is a lot different so that’s a bit of a struggle and a challenge for us, but we’re working through that.”


Even though the girl’s varsity team has been faced with many challenges this season, it hasn’t affected their potential to play great soccer


Coach Hamilton stated before facing Overland, “When playing these games you always have to come up with good defensive strategies, but when we have the opportunity to attack, we execute it..” Coach Hamilton describes her secret weapon against Overland as well, “When I took over [girls varsity soccer] a few years ago, a group of sophomores started playing and still know each other. They’re friends on and off the field, it’s really nice to see how they mesh well, and their leadership really takes precedence.”


Team captain, Jessica Blethen, who covers offense and defensive center, also commented on the team’s practicing processes in the days before the game.


She stated, “The thing we have been working on most is transition. We have been trying to use everyone in the offensive attack and to keep possession and to get a good shot on frame. Like any other team, we have to prepare and be ready to play our game.”


Blethen also voiced her concerns about the rivalry against Overland, exclaiming, “I’m mostly nervous that we won’t play the way we are used to playing and that we [won’t] control the ball like we can.” But this isn’t going to stop them. Blethen says, “My greatest strength as a player is communicating and being a leader. The greatest strength of my team is working together and we never give up. I’m with a great group of girls almost everyday and I get to play the amazing sport of soccer. I’m excited for another game.”


Kari Hamilton analyzed the victory against Overland and afterwords explained, “The first half we weren’t playing together, we were playing more individualized. We’re gonna watch our shape and make sure we play together but I really enjoyed second half. They really started listening to each other and applying the strategy; playing high pressure and fast and watching the goal. Our defensive line did a good job of shutting down number 14 and Tatiana Rivera really played her heart out shot after shot to get our first goal during our first half. Tat was our MVP of the game.”


Midfielder, Emily Llamas, also had some wisdom to shed on the teams progress and her own. “We are in one of the most difficult leagues so all of our games are pretty nerve racking. We are used to playing on turf for our games even though we practice on grass…For me personally I have been sick so it was a little harder to run the whole game like I normally would [have], but it’s never just one person. The whole team has to work together for a win. Any win is really uplifting and fun,” and it’s clear that Llamas didn’t let her recent illness detract from her ability to serve her team and pull a win for Eaglecrest.


Another midfielder, Leila Morris, talked on the outcome of the Overland game, stating, “Winning a game is always rewarding mentally. We have been unlucky with our losses this season, so I feel like this win will be a good boost for our upcoming games. There’s no better feeling than winning. Everyone came together and did their part…communication, touches, and passes. We have focused hard to perfect these. In the game of soccer, simple communication can have a huge impact and I feel that it helped win the game for us. This season, I feel like the team is very connected. I’m most excited for the relationships we’ll continue to grow. I love the girls on the team.”


The girls varsity soccer team at Eaglecrest functions like a family. They are there to work as a unit and when they don’t, the players are aware. In the case of Overland, it was unifying the team, that got Eaglecrest their victory.


One of the scoremakers of the game, Aj Lukenbill, emphasized this point, “I felt really good and proud of the team after the win [but] of course I walked away knowing what we could’ve done better…I credit this victory to the team in general the most because we came together as a team to find our own players and make smart decisions.”


Lukenbill and her team only has a couple games left in the season and she, “just want[s] to cherish the time I have left with the teammates I have now and hope for more success as the season comes to an end.”

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