With a recent run of postseason success, this year’s girls soccer team is hoping to continue to grow and develop, while keeping a lighthearted atmosphere.
“The spirit of the girls is just fabulous – they lift me up,” said head coach Christy Cooper. “We want it to be fun. We want to go down on the field every day and play.”
The stakes have been raised for the program in the past few years, with three straight playoff berths and two trips to the New England semifinals. Cooper said that the season results have really motivated the players to work at a high level.
“The kids have a very clear appreciation for the amount of work we have to put in to achieve like that,” she said, giving special kudos to last year’s senior class: Britney Burns ’20, Louisa Essuman ’20, Sadie Gould ’20, Delaney Hayes ’20, and Sofia Weber ’20. All five have gone on to play college sports, with four playing soccer.
“[The current players] saw in those kids who graduated a group of players who were really dedicated and committed to the sport,” added Cooper. “They recognize that it’s not even just about what they do in the fall, it’s what they do year-round.”
Without a competitive interscholastic schedule this season, this year’s squad has been focusing on building skills, including touch with the ball and passing accuracy. The goal is to increase the pace of play and become more precise in ball movement, said Cooper.
The technical work is especially important this season with a younger roster that includes more preps (five) than seniors (four). Part of the youth movement can likely be attributed to the team’s winning ways.
“Success draws kids. Good players who are looking to go away now see Hotchkiss as a place where they could play high-level soccer and potentially prepare themselves to play later,” said Cooper.
Perhaps just as important, or more, is the importance of the team concept and having a group of players who care for and support each other, she added.
And although the players are focused on putting in work to improve their games, the team is also trying to keep the atmosphere light through fun competitions and games during practices that they might not get a chance to do in a typical season.
This year’s group of seniors – Devin Goldstein ’21, Eve Kantaros ’21, and co-captains Keiko Smith ’21 and Romy Tarantino ’21 – will be essential in keeping morale high and preserving the ethos of the team.
“They have to keep the team together, keep the spirit high, and keep our traditions going, and they are all great for that,” said Cooper.