On February 10th, Tam girls varsity soccer beat Branson 4-2 to claim the MCAL title. Leading up to the huge MCAL win against Branson, Tam trailed Branson by two goals. Both teams were tied 2-2 before advancing into penalty kicks, where Tam triumphed and won MCALs. “To come back and beat Branson after trailing 2-0 was amazing. Especially since they had given up only one goal all season,” Coach Shane Kennedy said. Tam advanced further, competing against Redwood in NCS where they lost 2-0, ending their season. Despite not playing further into NCS, they ended the season with having accomplished their goal of winning MCALs.
As the season comes to to a close, captains and seniors Reilly Johnson, Kira Cross, and Tam News reporter Emlen Janetos found this season to be the best of their high school careers. This is Janetos’s and Cross’s fourth year on the team and Johnson’s third. All three captains have made significant impacts on their younger teammates and brought the team together. The team’s development culminated in an MCAL title to cap off a successful 2018 campaign.
Cross pointed to the team’s camaraderie as the factor in their success this season. “Over the season, because we are a really young team, I think our team chemistry made it a lot easier to be in a positive light because as we have gotten to know each other, we have gotten to be a better team and to be better on the field,” Cross said.
Both Cross and Janetos agreed that their four years of varsity experience gave them a leg up in welcoming the underclassmen to the team. “We’ve always been majority upperclassmen, specifically the past three years and we were always an older, more experienced team,” Janetos said. “This year we are majority freshman and sophomores, which definitely creates a different vibe at practice. However, it gets interesting because I get to lead a team that is different with my other two captains.”
Kennedy appreciated the team chemistry this year and thinks it was crucial to their success. “We had great leadership this season. The captains went out of their way to be inclusive of the underclassmen. We had great team chemistry and lots of fun,” he said.
Janetos, a key mid-field player, received first team all-MCAL honors the season.
Johnson, who was the youngest senior on the team, was able to connect with her younger teammates and help them transition onto the team. “The younger players can relate to me and easily approach me with questions because I am so young for my grade so I’m not as scary of a senior.” Johnson said. Leading by example, Johnson was also selected the MCAL Player of the Year this season.
Cross, a main outside back on the field, was injured the majority of the season, offering her a new perspective on the team as a whole. ”It’s been really hard being injured, but it’s actually given me a chance to make the team chemistry better,” Cross said. “Because on sports teams there is always a disconnect between people who play and people who don’t get a lot of playing time. So for someone like me who has gotten lot of playing time over the past four years, it’s really nice to be able to bridge the gap between people who play and people who ride the bench.”
Cross has been able to help Kennedy with organizing the team, helping set up drills and motivating the team from the sidelines. “As team chemistry has gotten better, we’ve been able to see that when someone who usually plays goes on the field, it doesn’t really change the vibe of what’s going all because we are all really closely knit together,” Cross said. Johnson also understands how beneficial it is to have the same coach for all four years. “Having one stable coach all throughout high school has allowed my teammates and I to create a solid relationship. We have gotten used to [Coach Kennedy’s] coaching style and and we know what formation he is going to play. Our team has been able to maintain trust and feel confident with him as a coach,” Johnson says.
Ultimately, the team’s success stemmed from the veteran captains who knew what needed to be done in order to win.
“The captains came in with experience from their previous seasons on varsity. They were nominated captains because of their experience,” Kennedy said. “We had a great season. One of the best in the history of Tam girls soccer.” ♦