As the 2022-2023 girls’ soccer season comes to a close, the girls reflect on how they’ll continue to improve.
Spring sports at Thomas Jefferson High School have returned, including girls’ soccer. After four-week-long pre-season workouts, the season officially started mid-February and will end in early May. This year, for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there is a varsity and junior varsity team at Thomas Jefferson. The soccer season is shaping up to be successful.
Varsity has won four of their eight games (league and non-league) and three of their six league games. They have five more games, including crossovers, where the matchups will be decided based on standing. The varsity team is fourth in the 4A bracket, behind North and Northfield. Compared to last season, they are on track to end the season as well as they did in the 2021-2022 season.
Last season, the varsity girls ended with ten wins and five losses. However, at the end of last season, the varsity team also lost some of their most valuable players. Many seniors who graduated last year had been on the team since their freshman year. However, it has not significantly affected how they have played this year. The girls still have many of the same players and some talented new ones, so their chemistry on the field is still strong.
During some of the girls’ most important games, their defensive line works hard throughout the game. But the team agrees they need to work on moving the ball out of the defensive third. The focus of the coaches during practice is to improve the girls’ performance by helping them find passes in the middle, working on combination plays, and improving team communication. Anna Blanchard, a junior who plays varsity, said, “I think we have improved our shape cohesively together on the field, but we need to work on the offensive third and not just shoot [the ball]… we don’t look for the better play.” When under pressure from the opposing team, the players can get antsy and kick the ball to the other team, rather than looking for passes through the middle. The team’s strategy for getting the ball up the field is to make long balls for the forwards, allowing the midfielders and wing players to get to the offensive third of the field and help the forwards score. But that is easier said than done, so the girls will continue to practice it in each game.
In sports like soccer, how the players perform is not always the most important part of playing on a team. The bond the girls have is also important. Most of the girls on the team have known each other for at least a year now and are comfortable with one another, but loyalty must extend off and on the field so they can play to their best potential.
Sophomore Julia Simakso added, when asked how they can improve on the field, “I think we have that down, we need to focus more on loyalty off the field.” Simakso believes that connection is important for the team’s success. “I think there’s always room for improvement, but off the field we need to be a team and not just people that play a sport together.” The team has been working toward this goal by having team lunches and dinners and spending more time together outside of soccer when they can. By making better friendships off the field, the coaches and players hope to have built a greater connection on the field.