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The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of C. Milton Wright High School

The Pony Express

CMW Girl’s Soccer: Gelled at the Seams

How Team Building Led to a Season of Success

C. Milton Wright’s girls varsity soccer team has just wrapped up their season after falling short to No. 6 Sparrows Point, during the state semifinal game. However, this was the furthest the team has gone in the last few years, and many players dedicate the team’s success to the effective approach of head coach, Andrew Harrell, and the various team bonding experiences throughout the season. 

Early on in the season, Coach Harrell noticed that the team was not always consistent in games and also pointed out that the girls seemed to be playing separately, not as one whole cohesive unit. To combat this issue, he identified several goals that he believed would help the girls play to their best potential. The first was to not avoid letting teams hang around too long by putting goals in the back of the net early. If they let teams stick around, the other team may gain a sense of confidence which will propel them to receive the win in the end. His next goal was to stay composed as a team. During a game, there are many ups and downs and unexpected moments that can change the course of the game. By remaining calm and composed, the team can prepare to face any challenge. Harrell also noted that tough games and losses come with key takeaways and new lessons. “They taught us how to be physical, how to have grit, and the toughness needed to play,” said Harrel. 

This season consisted of several games that showcased the Mustangs’ talent and resilience, but one that stood out above the others was the state quarterfinal game against the No. 2 seed and defending State Champions, Century. The coaches and players knew that coming in as the underdog, they would have to work harder than ever to come out with a win, and they did just that. Junior forward, Emma Jankowiak, scored the first goal of the game for the Mustangs, but Century followed with two more goals before half, making the score 2-1. Most of the second half went by without any more goals, but with two minutes left on the clock, senior forward, Leah Holman, put the ball in the back of the net to tie up the game. The game went into overtime, double overtime, and then to penalty kicks. Junior goalie, Alix Bramble, came up with two saves out of 5 shots, while Century goalie came up with one. Junior midfielder, Carley Jehnert, scored the fifth and final penalty kick to win the game and advance the team to the state semifinals. “The game was in my hand at that point,“ said Jehnert, “I had to take a big deep breath and ignore the surroundings.” “That game felt like it was straight from a movie,” said Harrell. 

During the weeklong stretch of practices between the end of regular season games and the start of playoffs, in substition of practice, the coaches organized a trip to Harford Glen where the team took on the ropes course. Their cooperation, communication, and problem-solving skills were put to the test in this course, challenging them to persevere through the obstacles together. The coaches’ goal was for the team to take what they learned on the course and apply their experiences on the field.  Going into playoffs, they wanted the girls to feel like a gelled and bonded unit. 

Post-game conferences, where Coach Harrell would discuss and break down the previous game, became the routine for practices that followed a match up. He would address what the team did well, what could be improved upon, and the game plan to work on the weak spots.  During times when the team may not have performed up to their potential in the game, Harrell was able to recognize that there was a need for encouragement and motivation. So, he would incorporate an inspirational story or give an uplifting speech during the post-game talk. “His speeches were able to reinstall the desire to win after a loss by encouraging us to lean on each other and build up our team unity for better performance, which helped to strengthen our bond,” said Jehnert. 

Beyond any doubt, it is disheartening to see that this team, who worked incredibly hard, was unable to reach the long-awaited goal of a state championship. But looking back on the season that the girls had, their desire to win and to improve daily was evident, and we can expect to see more of it in future years of the program. 

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