By Hayley Rea--Eagle Assistant Editor
As the Varsity girls’ soccer season continues, the team has seen more diversity in scores as they handle new challenges with their opponents.
“We are in a new conference with tougher competition, and we are fairly young as a team,” Maryann Castaneda-Hodges, Varsity girls’ soccer coach, explained about the girls’ hardships.
In the team’s game on May 7 against William Byrd, the girls lost 5-1. This was their second game against Byrd and served to show their improvements from the first game on May 4.
“My team and I weren’t prepared for Byrd at first. After we played them the first time, we knew what we’d expect when we played them again,” sophomore Sayda Rojas-Campbell, a Varsity teammate, replied. “Playing against Byrd on May 4th was a little messy for us. We weren’t all that prepared, but we still fought in the game. We never gave up. On the game on May 7, we were prepared. We knew how they were going to play, which made my team and I stronger together.”
Despite losing both games against Byrd, the team still saw many improvements between the two.
“While the score doesn’t show it, I think the girls improved a lot between the two Byrd games. Our ball control and speed of play is getting better all the time. We have begun to focus more of our energy on shooting and finishing. Hopefully we will [see] some improvement there real soon,” Castaneda-Hodges commented.
According to the team players, the coaches had a large impact in the advances made against Byrd.
“With the help of our coaches, we came up with a game plan so we could stop them from shooting and making those runs. I have improved my tactic skills and my competitiveness in practice with the help of my coaches,” Sayda elaborated.
The girls were satisfied with their progress against Byrd and still managed to maintain a positive attitude.
“The overall morale of our team is...feeling pretty good. Everyone stays very positive, even if we are losing,” freshman Yuilianna Rojas-Campbell, a JV teammate, explained about the team’s positivity.
Following the back-to-back games against William Byrd, the girls faced off against Staunton River on May 11, bringing home another loss with a score of 2-1.
“Last Tuesday’s game against Staunton River was good and bad. In the first half, we got frustrated with each other and we picked up some of Staunton River’s vibes, which wasn’t very good. We weren’t really acting as a team in the first half. At halftime, we saw the issue and what [needed] to be fixed so we can be a team again. In the second half, we were better and we connected passes and eventually got a goal,” Sayda recalled.
This game proved to be another for identifying the girls’ improvements, despite the continued streak of losses.
“The progress I have noticed [as] my team has progressed through each opponent is [definitely] being more open with each other and finding ways and different ideas to beat the opponent. I think I have really progressed on speaking out and being more open since I’m a pretty shy person,” Yuilianna replied.
Next up for the team was the game against Northside on May 14. The girls’ losing streak continued with a final score of 2-0.
“They [had] a lot to overcome in this game against Northside. I…[did see] them come together as a team and work together. [I saw] them encourage each other and be good teammates to one another. [I] also…[saw] them take more shots on goal and be confident in their ability. [I wasn’t] really worried about the score,” Castaneda-Hodges explained.
There were some extra difficulties for the girls during the Northside game, causing their performance to decline.
“Northside’s game was a little rough because some of our players were injured and we had to bring up a player from JV so we would have enough players. In the first [half], a player had to come out of the game, which left us with 10 players. We were tired because we didn’t have subs. In the second half, our goalie had to come out because she was hurt, so we played with 9 players. We didn’t give up on this game. We eventually scored 2 goals, which we were very proud of. The results didn’t bother me much because we didn’t give up and that’s what really mattered to me,” Sayda elaborated.
However, the girls’ have worked hard to keep morale up and focus on the positive aspects of these games instead of the scores.
“We have done better [with] our passes to each other. We played very well. We could have done better, but we [tried] our best. I feel like the more we practice, the better we will do in our games,” junior Melody Castaneda-Gonzalez, a Varsity teammate, replied.
On May 18, the girls took on Lord Botetourt and sustained their fifth loss in a row. However, this streak didn’t stop them from recognizing their hard work and determination.
“Lord Botetourt’s game went very well in the first half. They only scored 1 goal and the defense was doing a fantastic job and our goalie. By the second half, I think we just got tired. One of our best players got hurt, so we didn’t have any subs. They scored on us several times, but we tried our best to get the ball upfield. Our goalie did amazing deflecting the ball,” Sayda recalled.
Even with their steps in the right direction, the girls recognize their weaknesses and plan to work hard to improve upon them.
“I think the skills me and my team need to work on for our upcoming game [would be] ball control, passing more, and using the whole field,” Yuilianna explained. “I think the scores will get better since we are getting stronger throughout the season.”
The girls have very positive outlooks for the next game and the rest of the season as they identify their strengths and weaknesses and create plans to practice.
“Our team did great, but there’s always room for improvement. I’m looking forward to scoring goals in the next game. I think the next game is where we can practice what we need to improve. I think it’s going to be great,” Sayda replied enthusiastically.
The team has found much to look forward to as they prepare for their upcoming games and opponents.
“What I’m looking forward to [in] the upcoming games is [working] harder and [beating] the teams we have lost to and [showing] we are strong mentally and physically,” Yuilianna stated.
Overall, the team is hoping to focus more on their progress in skill rather than each game’s score.
“I hope the girls see improvements in their individual games and see growth in the team’s play rather than the scores,” Castaneda-Hodges concluded.