OR Girls Soccer preview: strength in numbers
Out with the old, in with the new.
It’s a phrase that school athletics coaches must inevitably come to terms with; players mature over the years, getting better every season until one day they graduate and they’re gone.
This year, the ORR Girls Soccer team is being confronted with the loss of a large class of seniors that accounted for much of last year's starting lineup.
“We lost a lot of seniors last year,” said Head Coach Jeff Lombard. “The core of the team last year was seniors.”
Now Lombard and his team will face the difficult task of integrating new players and replacing the leadership of the team’s former seniors.
A key facet of the transition will be changing the philosophy of the team to depend less on star players and more on the power of the collective.
“Former teams relied on key players,” said Senior Captain Cameran Weaver who plays defense. “This year we should have a bench that will see a lot of minutes, so we won’t have to rely on big players as much.”
While professional soccer leagues typically limit the number of substitutions that can be made during a game and make it illegal for a player to reenter the game after being subbed out, those rules do not exist at the high school level, making depth all the more important.
“We’ve seen a lot of incoming freshmen that are ready to step up,” said Lombard. “There’s a good energy from the newcomers that I think will help excite everyone.”
Senior Captain Maddie Wright, who plays forward on the team, expects at least four or five freshmen to make the varsity team, which she said was “not at all normal” in her experience.
“This freshman class is huge,” said Senior Captain Mackenzie Wilson, who plays center midfield. “It’s not what people are going to expect to see.”
Luckily, while this year’s team might look different, the game itself will look a bit more normal as last year’s covid restrictions that banned headers and throw-ins and required masks to be worn will be removed. The team will also play a full season this year, after a shortened 2020 schedule.
“Last year was weird because of the short season,” said Wright. “It’s so nice to have all the normal things back, especially the headers and throw-ins.”
The Varsity and JV teams will kick off their seasons on Sept. 8 with non-conference home games against Fairhaven at 3:45 p.m.