Girls’ Soccer Team Clinches DII Conference Championship
Congratulations to the Girls’ Varsity Soccer Team on their DAC DII Conference Championship, and to Gretchen Siegel – Player of the Year!
When we began our pre-season practices in mid-February, I had a few aims in mind. I shared some thoughts about core principles with returning captain Gretchen Siegel and a few senior players. These ideals included things like “the team comes first”, “there are no unimportant details”, and “support of the team mission”. At the time, we did not give these ideals too much overt attention. Of course, every practice would start and end with a prayer, have a specific topic or goal, and address the development of the individual player and the team, but beyond this intentional framework, we worked toward these ideals more than we talked about them. I did stress with the young women that they would write their own story of the season.
On last Wednesday, May 9th (prior to our wins in the DAC semi-finals and finals), a young player remarked how it was our last practice. Because we started our pre-season training on February 19th, we both found it a bittersweet moment. Having had the longest girls’ soccer season in Chelsea history with the most amount of practice time, it was strange to think that it was about to end. Since it was the fourth of our dedicated practices for the post-season, I did feel we were prepared to play but also appreciated the dedication to training of this player and her teammates.
Intentionality plays a major role in our soccer program. Before the DAC final, I spoke with the team about their success. As a team they had won the regular season title (undefeated) and just defeated Tandem Friends in the conference semi-final. As individuals, they had all become much fitter, more technical, more purposeful with their play, and more competent in fulfilling their roles in our system. I encouraged them to treat the final as an exam that they had all prepared very well to take. Their effort and attitude would determine the grade.
The final game very much characterized our season. Dominating possession, we moved the ball well and with purpose. Our defensive midfield paring of Maria Zepeda and Grace Francis (ably augmented by Adrienne McShurley and Felice Lagarde) tackled well, intercepted passes, and built our attack. The defensive back three composed of the indomitable Agnes Wingate, Felice, and Astrid de Villedary (forcefully reinforced by Celine Townsend) won aerial battles, prevented attacks, and connected well with the central midfield. They protected goalkeeper Ana Sotelo, who faced few shots and earned her eighth shut out in twelve games. In wide roles, Claire Selner, Elizabeth Solomon, Emi Cueto, Solene Larive, and Janey Olohan all contributed in a number of ways. Claire reacted well to score the game’s only goal off of a rebounded free kick, while Emi ended her career at Chelsea playing the best soccer of her life. As usual, Rose Norris led the line as forward, holding up play, connecting with midfielders, and making runs. Both Nia Clarke and Lucy Stanford played in this role as well, contributing with hard charging runs (Lucy) and thoughtful play (Nia). Sylvia Gomez excelled also in her usual role as the link between our midfield and our forward and wide players. Finally, Gretchen performed her multi-faceted role of midfield creator and box to box player. She and Sylvia linked fluidly and created many scoring chances for teammates. The composite picture of the team revealed their grace of movement, harmony of spirit, and joy of play.
When they have time to reflect on the season, the young women should rejoice. Their dedication to leaning more about the sport and their corresponding growth as young athletes has been exponential. They have written a very powerful story of a team discovering its potential. The bonds of friendship and shared experience of hard work and dedication has helped the seniors create an enduring memory for themselves and the school community. I have been blessed to coach this passionate team and honored that the team leadership of Gretchen and the core seniors (Grace, Rose, Emi, Elizabeth, and Ana) have left the new Chelsea girls’ soccer jerseys in a better place.
Our Lady of Victory, pray for us.
Gretchen Siegel – Player of the Year