The girls varsity soccer team started very young with 13 new players, five being freshmen. When it started its season 0–4 though, the team was anything but discouraged.
The team finished its season 11–8, with each freshman fulfilling and exceeding the requirements of their individual positions on the team.
“The freshmen that we have this year have really stepped into their roles,” said Co-Captain and center midfielder Devon Lis ’18. “A couple of them start, and they have gotten more comfortable throughout the games. We’re all really happy with how the team has bonded and has overcome being younger this season.”
“One of the freshmen is my younger sister, Shaylah [Marciano ’20],” said Co-Captain and center midfielder Colette Marciano ’18. “Coming on to the team, she played goalie and shocked all of us with her incredible skill and surprised us all with her ability. She actually hit 100 saves with the varsity team in her first season.”
This development of skill does not come by itself though. It requires a team effort of experienced players, captains, coaches, and even other freshmen. Captains, for example, play the part of a role model.
“At first, coming on they were very timid, and they weren’t so comfortable with the team environment that was already intact with our returning players,” Marciano said. “Having four captains gave them the opportunity to have arranged people to go to to talk about their play or just feel confident in talking. They became comfortable with not only us, but everyone on the team.”
“As we got more comfortable, we grew more together,” Lis said. “We were able to know where another player was going on the field, and learn how our styles differed with each other in order to connect better.”
Coaches Valerie Rodriguez and Carly Misiewicz look forward to bringing out the potential in the young players on the team. Unlocking the talent during freshman year can lead to four years of strong performances from each player.
“If there’s freshmen making varsity, in my mind, they have room for tremendous growth,” Rodriguez said. “They have a skill set that they are already coming to high school soccer with, but they have a skill set that I know we’ve only hit the tip of an iceberg on. Each practice, I’m hoping to build their confidence, but at the same time, push them to an uncomfortable place where they can begin to grow as a player.”
Now that the season is over after a loss to top-seeded Hunterdon Central High School in the NJSIAA Tournament, the team is still satisfied with their results.
“I’m really proud of how we came back from a rocky start,” Marciano said. “It’s one thing to get down after you lose the first [three] games of your season. We went through a rocky patch, asking, ‘What is our outlook?’ and ‘How are we going to change this into a winning season?’ I think we were really able to do that, come out of some tight games and pull off an 11–8 record.”