Archive » December 4, 2008
GIRLS' HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER GOES FOR REPEAT CHAMPIONSHIP
By Leah Etling, Staff Writer
Not only are the players of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School girls’ soccer team champions on the field, they’re winners in the classroom, too.
The team, which kicked off its season this week with games against Nipomo, Dos Pueblos and Arroyo Grande, has consistently had one of the highest cumulative grade point averages of any sports squad at the high school.
Last year, the team was recognized with a National Soccer Coaches of American Team Scholar Athlete award for their 3.82 cumulative grade point average.
This season, the Pirates are defending a league championship from 2008 and have a big goal in addition to winning another Los Padres League crown. They want to win CIF.
Team captains Zoe Rogers, Tanner McCandlish, Lauren Merchant and Aolani Rueff say that their closeness as a team on and off the field is a big part of the team’s success.
“We don’t give up as a team at all. We often come back from behind,” said McCandlish, who suffered a torn ACL last year and missed most of the season. “You really learn to love the game after playing for so long.”
“Our bench is strong,” added Rueff, the team’s leading scorer last year even though she missed much of the season with a broken nose.
“We have more of an offensive team this year,” said Rogers. The captains are part of a group of nine seniors who have learned valuable lessons on the field.
“Winning doesn’t just come to you,” Merchant said. “We learned from the teams we lost to last year.”
Coach Rob Cantrell said that the teams’ senior leaders will be a big part of its efforts this year.
“With their leadership, we’ll be able to achieve some things that we’ve come close to achieving the last couple years,” said Cantrell, in his fourth year as head coach.
He’s proud of the players’ academic accomplishments.
“They take their grades very seriously. They realized that it’s easier to get recognized for academics than just athletics,” the coach said.
But the players like to have fun, too. Asked about team traditions, the captains came up with a long list – pasta feeds before every game, post-game chocolate chip cookies made by McCandlish’s mother, team breakfasts at the Longhorn in Santa Ynez, wearing tie-dyed clothes to school on Tuesday.
“We work as a team really well. We’ve been playing together since before we were 10,” Merchant said. The captains encouraged the community to come out and watch one of the games the team will play at home this year.
Reach Leah Etling at email@example.com.