Girls soccer rebuilds


photo by Jake Arthur

The girls varsity soccer team, despite early losses to Oviedo, Bishop Moore and Lake Mary, has led a strong season. Their record, 7-4-2 overall, has seen players from all grades step up and lead the team, overcoming injuries and personal challenges.

Team captains, seniors Meghan Precord, Taia Gomez and Vayda Barker, have worked hard to instill team unity and discipline. Their roles as sources of advice and guidance, especially to the younger players, fortify the familial nature of the team.

“Being the captain has been amazing,” Gomez said. “I’ve always wanted a younger sister, and being a mediator for the girls is gratifying, and I love it.”

This year the team has been a little more relaxed, taking into account demanding academic schedules and trying to recover after their entire defensive line and their forwards graduated last year. Coach Angie Densberger says the season is a great time to rebuild.

“We’ve been taking the season game by game,” Densberger said. “We’ve worked hard to focus on each game as it comes and I honestly could not be more proud of this team and of their accomplishments on and off the field.”

Senior Tia Menna looks out wide for a pass against Oviedo on Nov. 24. The team has multiple shots on goal, one with just five minutes left in the game, but lost, 3-0, and sustained two injuries. Photo by Jake Arthur.

Like previous years, the team always faces difficulties in overcoming losses as a unit early in the season. A 1-0 loss to Bishop Moore, however, was followed by a 2-2 tie against Freedom, one of the higher ranked teams in the district.

“Making a goal against Freedom was one of my proudest moments,” Gomez said. “Every kept saying we were going to lose, but we proved them wrong, and there’s no feeling that can compare.”

The team has seen its share of victories, too. With a tough win against the previously undefeated Winter Park, strikers, freshman Hana Matave and sophomore Julia England, made one goal each with a third followed by senior Tia Menna.

The team also shut out Lake Brantley, 8-0, with lead scorer England making her sixth and seventh goal of the season despite a sprained ankle.

But England’s minor ankle issue was followed by a series of injuries seen on both teams, varsity and JV.

Freshman Savannah Lickel hurt the tendons in her ankle, rupturing them playing midfield on a run for the goal during a tournament with her club team. Matave was also injured, sustaining a concussion against Palm Coast on Nov. 5, after battling in the eventual 0-0 tie. And Precord, a center defender, tore the ligaments in her ankle in the first Oviedo game on Nov. 24. While the doctors said she probably cannot play for the rest of the season, she’s hopeful to make a comeback.

“It sucks because I really wanted to play my senior year,” Precord said. “But I’m not going to [let] Oviedo take me out and let that be my last game. Win or lose, I want to end out the season with the team.”

The team says that although the injuries this year, which are matched with three concussions, a broken wrist, another torn ankle, and three knee issues on JV, are felt by the team, they have not dampered the spirit of the players.

“Luckily the girls have really stepped up where we lost players,” Precord said.

Senior Kendra Baird, after learning the technique in Care and Prevention of Injuries, cracks senior Taia Gomez’s back. It has become a sort of ritual on the sidelines as the team bonds and looks out for each other. Photo by Jake Arthur.

Throughout the season, the team has been upholding that idea of unity through their seasonal motto, which they choose every year immediately following try outs. This year, it’s “One Team,” which is meant to enforce a team instead of an individual mentality.

“It’s been hard to stay together at times because everyone is so stressed,” Precord said. “A lot of the team is in AP classes and having soccer every day and then keep[ing] up our grades can be really challenging. But anyone who plays a sport or does any extracurricular knows that, and we’ve been doing well all things considered.”

As the team looks to the rest of the season and to districts, the captains and the rest of the seniors prepare to say goodbye to their team and to the memories of their four years of soccer reflected in the team.

“I was bawling last year,” Gomez said. “It’s going to be so hard to say goodbye to high school soccer because for the last four years we’ve gotten so close and overcome so much together.”

Between now and senior night, however, is winter break. The team says the break is much needed.

“We really need some time to take a break, both mentally and physically,” Gomez said. “So long as everyone maintains their individual skills, I think when we come back everyone will be pumped and ready to represent for our last game.”

The team will be competing in the annual Julie Weber tournament this weekend at Lake Mary, with games at 6 p.m. on Friday, and 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Their next regular season game will be Senior Night on Jan. 5, against Apopka, at 7:30p.m.