By Meghan Chayka
Everybody loves an underdog, right? An underdog is always that one team who people think never has a chance of winning. Then, at the last second they pull out the win, surprising everyone. Well at Cheshire Academy that underdog is girls varsity soccer. Over the years, the girl’s varsity soccer team has always been small enough to only have one big varsity team instead of a varsity and junior varsity team. Usually, when sports announcements are made at morning meeting they are all about football, volleyball and boys soccer. But what about girls soccer? Why are people not pumped up to see their games? They have some of the best, most hard working, athletes at the school on the team who really have a passion for soccer. One player on the team named Darien Dunham, a senior co-captain, has really brought the team to a whole new level with her goalie experience and field experience. She is even being scouted by colleges and being accepted to soccer programs all over the country for her talent. However, in the past few years girls’ varsity soccer has not had an undefeated season nor even a win at New England’s but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t climbing their way to the top. With a new season, new coach, new girls and new uniforms, girl’s varsity soccer team is ready to take over the fall season at Cheshire Academy.
Imagine being on a soccer field with the sun beating down on your face, your adrenaline pumping, your team mates yelling and people cheering on the sidelines just as you are about to wind up and shoot the soccer ball right into the goal, winning the game. The excitement of the game is why one of the team’s senior players, Nicki Lamberti, loves soccer. Nicki, a current senior and co-captain of the team, has been on the girl’s varsity soccer team since her freshman year. When asked how she has seen the team grow since her freshman year, Nicki replied, “My freshman year we were not very successful, we didn’t have a lot of very good players, lets just say we did not win many games. Over the years we have had great growth both in the quality of players that have come to campus and the progression in the players too. And I think this year we will probably have one of our best seasons.” One of the reasons why the team will have a successful season this year is because of the new coach, Ann Kandel. A new coach can sometimes be good for any sports team because it allows a fresh set of eyes to see the team for the first time, and the team, as a whole, can build from there. Well that’s exactly what Nicki thought and when asked about her new coach she said, “We like her, I think she is bringing a new perspective to the game. Our coach in the past has been, I guess, just different so now we have a coach who is more understanding of the players that we have. She is very nice and also works us hard fitness wise which is good”.
The team does not just have good strong senior players; the team also has good underclassman players who will, in the future, hopefully lead the team to a big victory. One of those underclassmen is a sophomore named Danielle Putnum, who started playing on the varsity team her freshman year. When Danielle was asked how she would like to see the team grow by her senior year, she replied “By my senior year I would like to have some more girls on the team. And I’d like to see the work effort go up and even the skill level improve.” Whether it’s a senior like Nicki or a sophomore like Danielle, the team always sees room for improvement; the more players, the more diversity of skills. One big part of improving the skill level of the team is the pre-game warm up. According to Danielle, a pre-game warm up is, “Getting pumped [up] by our music and then going to do our warm up and stretches and pump each other up. And a lot of us have handshakes that we do with each other”. Of course bonding is a key component to a winning team.
Undoubtedly, the burning question in the back of all the players’ minds is “will we make it to New England’s?” When Danielle was asked if she thought the team had a good chance of making New England’s, she replied, “I think there’s actually a chance that we can make New England’s possibly this year, if not this year, next year. We can just keep improving and practicing”. When senior, co-captain Nicki was asked the same question she replied, “I think we have a good chance. One way we can improve as a team is to become cohesive. It is very hard to make a team bond and mesh in such a short period of time, but we possibly have a chance this year.”
Overall, the underdogs of the school take their game very seriously. All of the players, eighth grade through twelfth all work very hard and try their best at every game. In the years to come the team will progressively become stronger and better; eventually making it to New England’s one day where they can say that they are just as good as any other sport in the school.