Written by Lexi Baysinger. Media by Steven Potter.
It was a tough season for the Lady Panthers soccer team. Our non-conference schedule was very difficult. But the teams that we played prepared us for our conference competition. As we moved into conference play, the team played very well. The way that we had stood together throughout the losses we suffered from other teams, allowed us a team bond that may not have been there otherwise. When teams inside of our conference looked at our preseason record, they would often count us out, but that just meant that they underestimated our ability to fight back, and that fight is what characterizes our team.
As season ended, it hit us that we would be losing eight seniors. The core of our team leadership had played their last season with us. It was an emotional time for our team, but as we moved towards spring season, we looked ahead with hope. As coach Jeff Wardlaw says, it is a year of opportunity for the remaining players. Leadership positions need to be filled and field positions will be taken over by new players.
On April 12th, the team travelled to Springfield, IL to play in a 7v7 tournament. During their one day of competition, the team went 1-2 in wins and losses. The first game was rough, but the team fought back and played a great game against Milikin. Had they won their next game, they would have gone into the championship. Despite the doubt that many people held for our team, the girls stayed strong and showed that we were still a force to be reckoned with, losing our seniors or not.
An interview with Coach Wardlaw gave me some insight into what he saw for the team in spring season and for the future. He made sure to emphasize that the group of returning girls are very focused and understand their responsibility to upkeep the traditions that the team has held. While they have been working hard in spring season, it’s been difficult to consistently have outdoor practices because of the weather. The focus for this spring season has been on individual skills instead of the team aspect of soccer because the numbers are so small.
And our numbers are small for right now. But it allows us to grow closer as a team. We have had team Bible studies every week that allow each member of our team a safe place to talk about their lives. Along with that, the team has been meeting to do lifting and cardio workouts. Every time the team meets, I see a closeness that I haven’t seen in a lot of teams that I’ve played with. When Coach Wardlaw said that the team had a good chemistry, and I couldn’t have agreed more. Our team is one who will fight for each other, and in the upcoming season, that attitude will mean a lot. I look forward to the 2014 fall season. I will miss the seniors, but I’m excited to see who will step up to fill the leadership roles that our seniors had. It’s going to be a year full of chances for our team, and I can’t wait for it to begin.