The girls soccer team concluded its season after a 3–0 loss against first-seeded Freehold Township High School in the sectional semifinals. The team looks to younger players to fill the gap left by its 11 graduating seniors in seasons to come.
According to Head Coach Valerie Rodriguez, the main goal of the team during the postseason was to maintain a sense of consistency.
“Consistency is the one thing that we talk about … We can be really strong one minute and then not so strong the next game … We have to make sure that we really do maintain that consistency from one game to the next,” Rodriguez said.
The team finished the season with a winning record of 11–5–1. Many of the players attribute the team’s success this fall to the large number of seniors on the team, six of whom have been on the team since their freshman year. According to Co-Captain Haley Bodden ’16, a center midfielder, this has helped the team achieve a sense of unity and comfort.
“We know how to play with each other since we’ve been playing with each other since freshman year,” Bodden said.
In addition to promoting strong familiarity between the players, the senior-heavy varsity team has allowed for mentorship within the team. Co-Captains Taylor Lis ’16, Gabrielle Deitch ’16, and Bodden have played together on the varsity team since freshman year alongside Maya Sarafin ’16, Sasha Ryder ’16, and goalie Rachel Eberhart ’16.
“A lot of it’s about leading by example,” Eberhart said. “Showing younger players how positions should go, how the team should work in dynamic, taking accountability for yourself, keeping the environment positive, and practic[ing] how you play.”
Being a role model for the younger players is especially important as many of the underclassmen will take over the graduating positions next season. Four junior varsity players were selected to practice with the varsity team during the postseason tournaments as a way to introduce them to a higher level of play. The team will lose half of its starters, predominantly in the offense, as it graduates 11 seniors this year.
“We brought up Patricia Young [’17], Shannon Romaine [’19], Isabella Stier [’18] and Kristina Miers [’18]. We’re putting them in different spots to see how they work with players that will be here next year,” Eberhart said.
Aside from the four girls who were brought up, the program is only looking at seven returning varsity players next season. The team is already starting to prepare itself for the large change it will face after losing so many of the seniors.
Bodden speculates that the team dynamic will change. “Next year is definitely, I would say, a rebuilding year for girls soccer, because our year is definitely a really strong group of girls,” Bodden said. “I think that Coach [Rodriguez] knows that it’s going to be a different type of environment … We had so many key players who are [class of] 2016.”