On Monday we will honor our senior class of 2023. This one is more than a little personal to me - it is literally family, since Lindsay is in this class. And...because she is in this class, I actually remember many of these girls from pre-school days, and I remember coaching a bunch of them in mini-Kickers for Stingers Soccer Club back in the day. And I have watched these players grow up since then, to the point where they are about to spread their wings and move along to Universities near and far. So tomorrow will be especially sweet for me.
These seniors went 1-0 their freshman year : ) Undefeated - it was the COVID Spring of 2020. In 2021, the program went 13-1, won the Jeffco 4a league, and made a trip to the state finals, where they lost their only game of the season. In their junior year, they repeated their Jeffco 4a league title, and finished 15-2-1, losing in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Northfield. This year they currently sit 8-4 as we enter the final week of the year. So...for a career, the program is 37-7-1. Thanks for your contributions on the field, girls!
But I am doubly proud of the kind of culture and team spirit these girls have developed this year - they train hard every day, have fun together, care for each other, have outworked most every team this year, play together as a unit on the field, and have fought back from defiicits time and again. I know this will have a lasting impact on our program. Thanks.
Our senior player celebration will begin at 6:30 - please join us. Then the seniors will lead us onto the field against Arvada West, one of the top teams in the Jeffco 5A league this year. And coming off the heels of our best, most complete game this year (a thrilling 2-1 victory over Windsor) this promises to be a tough but terrific game.
Here are the Seniors, with their destination next year:
Sophia Andriola - Penn State University
Ellis Barwell - William and Mary
Mia Graziano - University of Colorado
Lindsay Jeans - Colorado School of Mines
Sam Johnson - Michigan State University
Macy Kormylo - University of Oregon
Sophie Seybold - University of Utah
There are a lot of sayings I use with the team and program, but one of the most oft repeated is "Get better today."
It is easy to wish for good results in our games...but not so easy to do the work required to prepare to succeed. This past week we put in the efforts and I felt like we improved each day. We did two consecutive scrimmage practices of final third finishing practice. The field was "box on top of box" and every time a team had the ball they were in the finishing third. So every possession is a chance to score. Given that...
- What is the best spacing for each player off the ball to exploit the defense?
- What is the best decision by each player on and off the ball to get the ball into dangerous areas and create scoring chances?
- Should I be appropriately selfish, or should I look for one more pass?
- Am I ready at all times to attempt to finish?
- When I shoot, am I hitting it hard or placing it? High or low? Near post or far post? Header or volley? One time, or taking a touch or more?
Every possession can yield a goal given the right decisions, and the right execution. We will continue this week to get that much better than we were last week at this vital area of the game! Coach
I wanted to first take a moment to honor the teachers that we recognized this past week at our Littleton game. And thanks to our seniors for insisting, in a season with so few home games at EHS, on having a teacher appreciation ceremony. Special thanks to Mia, who helped to organize the event!
Your teachers were genuinely appreciative of this effort on your parts. I had virtually all of them stop by to tell me how much they appreciate these little gestures - that it makes their jobs more worthwhile to know they are connecting with their students and having an impact on your studies and lives.
I also wanted to use this week to talk about being a STUDENT athlete. On that note, I begin by thanking the girls in this program for their lengthy (many years???) streak of not having any missed games due to a failing grade. There are many programs for which eligibility is a constant concern, so I appreciate that our students take their academics and grades seriously. Knowing our athletes will be eligible to play every game makes our job of preparing for the next game a lot easier.
I have heard more than once from kids (or their parents) that they are unsure if they can balance both athletic and academics aspects of student life. Both data and personal experience, however, bear out that playing a sport generally helps ones' academics. Personally, whether in HS or college, I was more focused, healthier, and would work harder on my studies in season than out of season. And I always got my best GPA during my main season. Athletics provided structure to my day, and usually, that structure meant more studying and less procrastinating.
We have 5 or so weeks left in the school year. We will be playing a lot of soccer and spending a lot of time together. Finish your academic year strong as well - its another way to thank those teachers of yours!
In Finding Nemo, Dori famously advises Nemo’s Dad, Marlin, to “just keep swimming.”
I think the analogy applies to our team and program right now. We have had some serious setbacks this year - injuries, absences, and heartbreaking losses. Indeed, all three of our losses have come despite playing really well in those games, having taken Northfield, Ralston Valley, and Green Mountain to Overtime or the last minutes of regulation before surrendering the winning goal. But…we have also gotten better with each game, showing great heart, determination and discipline in the process. We have made outstanding opponents sweat it out, and had our chances to sneak away with a win in a game in which I am pretty sure we were not favored. And note that all three of these are top programs in the state - purposefully scheduled to help strengthen us.
My message to the girls this week is simply this - Just Keep Swimming.
We have three choices - to keep swimming, to tread water, or if we do neither, we will sink. I trust in these players to have the character to bounce back and keep swimming forward, trying to get better every day and for the next match. That mindset will help us as we push towards more competitive games later in the season and in the playoffs….and…ultimately, it will have the effect of getting the result we want in these big games down the road.
This week features two great matches - first, a home match Monday versus Littleton at EHS Turf Field. It will be a great afternoon, complete with an acknowledgment of our favorite teachers at EHS at 3:25 PM. (A side note - thanks once again to these girls for always providing for the coaches an absolute clean sheet when it comes to your grades and eligibility, and thanks as well go to EHS’ teachers for the hard work they put in to helping you succeed.) Then on Thursday we travel down to NAAC to play longtime rival Golden. In between those two games, we will train Tuesday and Wednesday.
Just Keep Swimming!
I often wonder how the girls get so lucky to play their High School season in the "Spring" - we are subject to relentless wind, regular snow, and poor field conditions most of the season.
That all came together "perfectly" this past week in our trip to Battle Mountain HS in Edwards. On the way up, we drove through a squall, and arrived to find the field covered in 1.5 inches or so of snow.
Amazingly, the JV game kicked off nonetheless, and as they played (a 4-0 victory!) the weather improved, and all of their running around on the field also had the effect of somewhat clearing all the snow. So that by the start of the varsity game, the field was almost clear. Almost.
Thankfully we got off to a flying start, punctuated by a wonderful finish by Mary Cox on a corner kick play. We didn't ever get our second goal, but, thankfully, the Huskies never got their first either. Indeed, we hung on for dear life at the end of the game, as our opponent put us under pressure, and also, another squall arrived with 25 minutes or so to play, dumping another 2 inches of snow on the field. All in all, a memorable 1-0 win!
We showed great courage, toughness, and togetherness as a program - playing and cheering through brutal conditions. There were many Cougars of the Day that day - the parents, for getting the team safely to the game (and home), Mr. Fuller (the school chemistry teacher) and his wife for braving the elements all the way to the end of the match, all of the reserves for their loud encouragement from the sidelines, and finally to Mary Cox, for her wonderful finish and for her discipline and toughness on the field.
This week upcoming we will be severely tested once again by a terrific Ralston Valley team, and then with our season opening league contest against perennial rival Green Mountain. Sko Cougs!