By Emma Schafer
Soccer season is upon us, and the two-time defending state champions are back on the field doing their thing. Seven seniors returned to lead the team to a hopeful, third state title. Playing alongside these seniors are 10 juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen.
Each individual girl will bring all they have to come together as one, and achieve their collective goal… a state championship. Senior Mali Seran said, “We don’t have expectations for this season, instead we have goals. Every year our team and other teams change, as new players join and leave. We just want to be cohesive and win one game at a time.” With this mindset, The Crusaders will have the opportunity to go above and beyond what they intend to achieve.
Every season, the team changes. Players graduate, girls are moved within the program, and new freshmen come in. Different goals and expectations are desired, new challenges and roles arise, and new experiences are made. With all these changes, what brings a new team together? The answer is simple, chemistry, and this soccer team has a lot of it. Between grueling practices and hard fought games, this team knows how to bond and have some fun. Throughout the season, they have had many team bondings and activities such as completing The Escape Room and eating team dinners. They seemed to click right off the bat, which helps them a lot on the field. “I am looking forward to bonding with this team and becoming a support system for one another.” Senior captain Megan Valenzuela said. “I think this year we are definitely a lot closer than last year already.”
As a new team, they even have some pregame traditions already. For every home game, the team runs up ‘the hill’ to touch the sign that says ‘Marian Soccer’. This sign is subscripted by the phrase: “greatness is reserved for the few who will do what no one else will.” Another tradition is their prayer circle before every game. They do this to make sure that they are watched over safely as they play.
Individual team members have more personal rituals: senior Megan Valenzuela always performs personal handshakes with specifically junior Mia McGrath and seniors Delaney Gunn and Delaney Stekr – always in that order. Freshman Mia Suter always puts her left shin guard on before right, every game since was 12 years old. Whether it’s handshakes or shin guards, these superstitions help the girls perform their best.
In her fourth season, Coach Teresa Virgillito DeGeorge ‘92 is back guiding her team one game at a time. This year she is focused on hard work and on team unity. “We are a very talented team but talent doesn’t win games, [we] must fire on all cylinders. My goal, of course, is to win state and if we play our potential, hopefully we will accomplish our goal,” DeGeorge said.
This group of seniors are very special to her, as she has seen them blossom from shy freshmen to strong leaders. They will be a big factor in the success of the team this year. “The very first week, I told the girls to get on the line to run hills and there were no complaints,” DeGeorge continued. “I was impressed by the sacrifices and the dedication they were willing to make for their team and coach. It really showed the resilience of the team and their strong mentalities.”
The soccer community is well aware of not only the dominance of Marian’s varsity team, but the program as a whole. Varsity, Junior Varsity and Reserve teams will all compete with the royal blue and white on their back this spring. With nearly 70 girls in the program, soccer at Marian is a strong and well-represented program! Make sure to catch a game this season!