Confidence boils in the minds of the 2013 Blue Valley girl’s varsity soccer team.
One overbearing thought clouds their minds — State.
The perfect season, the perfect team, the perfect ending are all put on the line.
Eyes looking forward as the next eighty minutes will decide the team’s fate.
The clock ticks down as the opponent holds a strong lead on the game.
A seemingly perfect season is about to come to an abrupt end, crushing the hopes for a State title.
One final burst of energy.
One last dying effort to add a goal to the board.
The final buzzer sounds as the athletes desperately try to hold back tears.
They walk off the field, already looking forward to reclaim the title the’ve been dreaming of.
The team lost to BV Northwest in the Regional Finals, ending their best season in years with a record of 15-3 and 12 shutouts.
Senior Brooke Zimmerman said losing to BVNW in the playoffs last year has motivated the team to have a strong season.
“It was heartbreaking knowing that we were winning all these games, and it had to come to an end,” she said. “The returning varsity players know that it’s tough to lose. We know that we just have to keep working hard because of how close we came to going to State last year.”
Head coach K. Dean Snell said it is hard to pick out what the team did wrong in their loss to NW because they did many things right.
“It was a tough pill to swallow,” he said. “We lost to a worthy opponent who ended up being the eventual State champions, so we know we didn’t beat ourselves. It wasn’t the way we wanted to end, but it’s over now and we know we never want to feel that way again.”
Senior Taylor Daniels said she hopes to have a successful season that ends in a State championship.
“[Last season], we had the potential to go all the way, but now it’s just more incentive to win it all this year,” she said. “I think everybody wants a season just as fun and successful as last year, and we know we’re going to have to put in the work in order to do that this year. I want to make sure the team keeps a positive attitude and works hard throughout the season. I also want to create multiple opportunities for team bonding so that the chemistry shows on the field.”
Sophomore Kat Retz said last year was so successful because of the team chemistry.
“We got really close off of the field, and it showed on the field,” she said. “We played as a team and not just 11 individuals. We wanted to work hard and play for each other, not just ourselves. It was mainly tough [ending the season] because that meant it was our last game together as a team. That has pushed us to try and make sure that we don’t feel like we did after the game and to cherish our time together because it can end so suddenly.”
Last season, the team created the slogan “Everybody Loves Everybody” to help promote a drama-free season.
“We came up with this because in past years there has been tension and cliques,” Zimmerman said. “Last year, we decided that wasn’t going to happen, and everyone would love everyone. We trusted each other a lot more and felt comfortable around each other. We didn’t yell at each other when we played, and we connected on and off the field.”
Snell said last year’s team had better team chemistry than most teams in the past.
“Last year, the girls got along very well,” he said. “The functioned very well as a unit on the field and they didn’t care who scored a goal as long as we had more on the board. They were all very unselfish.”
The 2014 captains are Daniels, Zimmerman and senior Hailey McEntee.
Daniels said the captains all vary in leadership styles.
“Brooke is definitely a leader by example because of her skill level,” she said. “Hailey is as well because she has a great work ethic and can help the team focus. I think I am more of the vocal leader and try to keep a positive attitude within the team.”
Retz said having seven seniors on the team is beneficial because it will give the team a lot of varsity experience and leadership.
“We have quite of few seniors this year, so there will be a lot of leadership,” she said. “Some people lead with their actions on the field, and some lead vocally. It will be a good mix of both this year. The team is a great group of girls, and, knowing what an impact it had last year, I’m sure the season will be great.”
Zimmerman said she will work as hard as she can while encouraging the younger athletes to do the same.
“I include them and make sure they feel comfortable,” she said. “Once they do, they eventually just play soccer and aren’t nervous.”
Retz said the upperclassmen on the team act as mentors to the younger athletes.
“The upperclassmen have shown me what it takes to have a successful season and how important working together is,” she said. “They are really just there to support you and be there for you on and off the field. Because of that, you really just want to work for them and play hard.”
Zimmerman said her high school career has helped her prepare to play at the collegiate level at Missouri State University.
“High school has forced me to have patience because it’s way different than club,” she said. “It will help me adapt to getting ready to play on a new team with new players, considering, in high school, you get new players every year.”
Daniels said the coaching staff has motivated her to be the best athlete she can be.
“They’re excited for the season, which gets the players excited, and they remind us that we need to focus on this season and work hard every day to be successful,” she said. “They challenge us every day to get better.”