By: Taylor Liguori
With many changes occurring this year, such as a new coach and a team made up of 8 freshmen and 5 sophomores, the Hammond High Girls Varsity Soccer team made sure they were prepared for this year, but really prepared to build the program to rock the county in the upcoming years.
Going into playoffs with an overall record of 0-12, Hammond is at the bottom of the standings for the playoff berth. Now bringing up 4 more sophomores for the first round, the team is yet again at a disadvantage with the age of their team. The season may not have been one for the record books, but certainly many positives came out of the season as a whole. Senior captain Tori VanderPutten took time to reflect on the season and tell about how they have already seen improvements since last year. “Our endurance and our fitness [improved] because our new coach has done a lot of mile runs, push ups and squats. Also, our basic ball skills [improved] because we spend at least 20 minutes every practice doing ball skills and just working on those things.”
With a new coach comes new adjustments which is not always easy. Coach Mo came into Hammond High in the 2018 season and people knew change was coming. “ The biggest expectation was to evaluate where they were and see what the foundation of the team was as far as skills and tactical sense. I realize that they had a tough season last year and I wanted to see where we needed to start and build on that.”
The common theme between players Tori Vander Putten, Ellen Hagerty, and Layla Hamro was to beat #2 in the county, River Hill. River Hill is made up of mostly travel and club ball players, so being a young team beating River Hill was a goal that many of them wanted to achieve. With a record of 8-0, River Hill had a big target on their back and Hammond wanted to be the ones to knock them down. At practice and the games leading up to River Hill, the team was always preparing. “ We would try really hard in practice and work on new things to try to improve. We would work on different passing combinations and different formations.” said Senior Ellen Hagerty. The game did not go as planned but the players expressed they definitely learned a lot from that game.
The beginning of the season started off strong with a scrimmage win over Meade. As the season went on, injuries were a big factor in the many losses of the team. According to Tori Vander Putten, almost every player on the team had some kind of injury over the season. With players dropping like flies, it was hard for the team to put all the pieces together because so many in season adjustments had to be made. Sophomore Layla Hamro took to the injuries as well saying, “When injuries occur, we try to adjust by having other people play different positions to cover for the injured.” Chemistry is super important in team sports and with people moving in and out of positions all year, the players found it hard to adapt.
The first round of playoffs will be this upcoming Friday away at Oakland Mills. The team has a good chance of making it to the second round, especially if they work with the communication skills the players have been discussing. With the season coming to an end, the record may not have shown it but the positives are there. Hamro explains her outlook on next year and how a new team will erupt. “For next year, I think that we will be tougher because the team will consist of a good amount of juniors compared to this year where there are only six upperclassmen.” Overall, the season was one that will be talked about, possibly as the turning point of the program.