by Shannon McSweeney
After hearing a pep talk from their coaches, circling up to pray the Hail Mary and giving each player time to say petitions, the Marian Varsity Soccer team is ready to play. These pre-game rituals, along with the closeness of this year’s team, are just a few of the reasons why the team feels confident about their chances at State.
The team is on their way to their third consecutive State Championship title. Their team of 23 players, five coaches, three team managers and two dogs has worked hard since March to make it to the final game on May 14. Because of this training, the team is closer than ever before.
“I think the team has been the closest that it’s been all year. The seniors this year are great leaders and we bring in the freshman under our wings more than we ever have,” junior midfielder and defender Lily Gonzalez said. “It’s not cliquey, the freshmen aren’t with the freshmen, the sophomores aren’t with the sophomores; it’s juniors and freshmen and sophomores and seniors, all of us together.”
The team bonds with Sunday night dinners and pregame naps, but they have been close since tryouts. “We became a family immediately once we found out all of the people who were on the team. It’s a really great dynamic,” said senior defender and team captain Megan Valenzuela.
The togetherness of the team is what has brought them this far, especially during their game against Westside on April 21. Assistant coach Monica Bosiljevac, a Marian alum who led her team to victory against Westside during her senior year, was excited for this year’s team to beat their rival.
“As soon as Westside scored that first goal, I said ‘Oh heck no, we are not losing,’ The fire was back,” Bosiljevac said. “The team really took care of it from there and their comeback story of how the game unfolded speaks for itself.”
Marian scored two points before Westside re-tied the game, but the Crusaders scored the final point in the final seconds and won.
Although they are having a successful season so far, the varsity team is not taking any breaks.
“We beat a lot of the Class A teams this year but that doesn’t mean that they’re not gonna come out even harder during State,” Valenzuela said. “We just need to play our Marian way and hopefully things will turn out.”
Marian has qualified for the State Tournament, so they will play their first round of state at Morrison Stadium on May 9.