Already in the middle of the Almont League season, the varsity girls’ soccer team is struggling to establish basic team unity. With a new head coach, Armando Gutierrez, the team is racing to try to connect with each other before the season draws to a close.
The Lady Moors include many star players that shine in their own light, but the team is failing to become recognized collectively. As a result, their preseason ended with a record of 2-8.
“There are a lot of good individual plays, but it’s difficult to work as a team,” said mid-fielder Vanessa Gutierrez.
Perhaps the most serious problem for the team is the switching of coaches each year for the past three seasons. Teams function particularly well when they have withheld the same coach for at least a few years. Even with graduating senior players, returning players and incoming JV players still build or maintain a strong bond with the coach, which enables them to play much more assuredly. Recently, in the case of girls’ soccer, the team has had no such luck.
“We’ve had a different coach each year for the past three years. It’s hard to get used to the different coaching styles each year,” said mid-fielder Gutierrez. Personally, Coach Gutierrez focuses on different tactics, having the team practice a lot of corner kick plays and passing drills.
The team describes itself as a “second half team,” or a team that may do more poorly in the first half of their game, but come around to improve their performance in the second half in a wave of motivation and desperation. More points are scored in the second half, but it may be too late for the team to surpass their opponent. Such was the case for much of the girls’ preseason, in which many games ended with only one or two point losses for Alhambra.
Another example of such a game was their Jan. 22 League match against Mark Keppel, which ended 3-5, with two points scored in the last half. However, that day, the girls were short one player and were also using a substitute goalie. It was raining heavily as well, leaving the field puddled, despite the game already having been postponed from Jan. 19 and from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Keppel game also led to an injury for mid-fielder Paulina Ale, whose collision with another player led to an injured knee that will keep the player from the field for two weeks.
Nevertheless, seeing their close scores, the girls aspire for better results under better conditions, less hindrances and, of course, more practice.
“Even though we had a really rough start, we’re still trying to reach CIF. It’s not too late; if we fix our flaws, we really can make it to CIF,” said Ale.