By Leaana Khan
Despite numerous challenges this season, Hammond’s Girls Varsity Soccer team is back and is persevering through them all, according to Coach Schaefer. When asked how the season is going so far, Schaefer said, “The season is going well; we are having a lot of fun just being together and getting out to play. We waited a long time for the season to get started and so we are grateful for the time to be playing together. We have learned a lot about each other and have made tremendous progress in terms of our understanding of the game.” She also mentioned the amazing performance of the three captains: seniors Camryn Johnson and Grace Yodzis and junior Laura Keister.
In regards to the performance of the team in recent games, Coach Schaefer replied, “We have played five other schools in the county and have held our own. We played well against Long Reach and River Hill in particular, with tough losses by only one goal in each of those contests.”
The coach says that the performance of specific players helps motivate others to push through. “Camryn Johnson, one of our seniors, has scored in each of the last three games, sparking a renewed sense of energy in the whole team when she has. What is tremendous to see about our program is that despite being down late in a game, the players are always looking to keep moving and pressing forward on offense.”
Coach Schaefer noticed trends in the way games are being played, such as the players using different strategies. She further commented, “In each game we are moving the ball up the field in a more systematic sense and taking more shots on goal. Moving around the field as a team is one of the hardest parts of playing soccer as it requires everyone on the team to know how everyone else moves. We are spending a lot of time understanding all the positions so that we can be in the right places and get the ball where we need it to go. Seeing the skills that we practice play out in the games is really rewarding as a coach and it speaks to the incredible ability of the players to grow as athletes who understand the game.”
Of course, the greatest challenge posed this season was Covid-19 and the changes in the format of the season. However, some of the changes proved to be beneficial. When asked about these changes, Schaefer replied, “COVID has posed challenges to all of us, most notably in the terms of only having enough players to field a varsity team this year. This does mean, however, that all four of our coaches are able to work with all the girls in the program. We all get to see what the girls are capable of and can reach them as individuals about what to work on. Being able to have all the players together this year is helping us build a cohesive program for the future.”
Schaefer says that the team’s excitement for the season helped them all persevere through the changes and difficult games.
“They are having a great time as they get to enjoy not only being outside and playing, but also just being with each other and having a shared experience. We know this season is not like any other and that we will have challenges, but we also know that everything we do this Spring will help us be a better team for next season. To hear our senior captains talk about improving for next fall – knowing full well they won’t be here to play – sends the message that we are always looking to improve not only as individuals, but as a team, a program, and a school.”
Evidently, the passion in the players is one of the strongest and most valuable assets of the team and will continue to help them improve throughout this season.