Girls soccer is kicking it despite younger team

Kaitlyn Keyes, Photography Editor

Sometimes the success of others can be daunting.

All of a sudden, the level you’re expected to reach is unbearably, insurmountably, high. But it’s a level you’re expected to reach nonetheless.

And following their state championship win last year, the Liberty girls soccer team definitely feels an added amount of pressure.

“There is a lot more pressure because we have targets on our backs because everyone wants to beat the state champs. They want to be able to say that they beat Liberty High School,” senior captain Sophie Mendoza said.

This already pressing challenge is made infinitely more difficult this year as the soccer team is younger than ever; with only four seniors making up their eighteen-player roster, the impact of losing several of last year’s key players to college is certainly felt.

“It has taken us some time to find our offensive rhythm, but we have been scoring a lot more during the second half of our season,” head coach Tami Nguyen said.

Indeed, during the first half of the season the team struggled to capitalize on chances, scoring only a total of 11 goals. However, in the second half of their season, this younger team found its groove and put away 21 goals.

While the loss of many seniors last year may have seemed like a setback originally, in hindsight, the challenges of a younger team has allowed a certain degree of growth in the players on and off the field.

“A younger team brings a lot of variety and space to teach and learn, which makes practices and games more about making people better than just winning,” said junior Taylor Elfstrom.

In spite of these extenuating circumstances, the team has not lost sight of its season goals.

“We need to first make it out of districts and hopefully put ourselves in a great situation, playing our best soccer to compete for the state championship,” Nguyen said.

After ending the season with a league record of 10-2 and winning districts, the team is going into state with a positive mentality and a focused mindset.

“We’re definitely determined,” sophomore Reese Tappan said. “We know in the back of our heads that that’s really the standard, the goal: to win it again.”