The Wilcox girls soccer team kicked off their preseason schedule with an 8-2 drubbing of James Lick on Tuesday, Nov. 22. While the score was lopsided, the team will gladly take the goals to boost their confidence level as scoring has been a problem in recent years.
“The game went pretty well, we got some goals in the back of the net,” commented senior captain Darcie Massey after the game. “In the past we have really struggled with [scoring]. Our problem has never really been defense. We just can’t get goals in the back of the net so that was definitely an improvement.”
While the scoring is good for the team’s confidence, the lopsided score wasn’t ideal for Massey. The four-year varsity midfielder was hoping for a bit more flow to the game in order to prepare for the league season coming up in a few weeks.
“In all honesty, the game was a little slower paced than I wanted it to be,” added Massey. “They were giving us a lot of time, so sometimes we were taking too many dribbles.”
Head Coach Luis Lujan appeared pleased with the way his squad played overall. With the big lead built up, he had his players limit themselves to two touches and then one touch to practice quick ball movement.
“Our top priority was possess the ball, distribute the ball, use the space on the field, keep the ball rolling,” commented coach Lujan postgame. “It’s one of the things that the game demands. It’s one thing you have to do well and there is no other standard. If you don’t have possession than you’re always chasing the ball. Other objectives were communication and pass accuracy. Initially we started with a three-touch maximum, and then after a few minutes we set the condition that it could only be two, and then at one point we said it had to be one touch. I think the girls were able to transition as the game went on. The pass accuracy increased and the communication was clearer. The girls responded well today.”
Two players in particular stood out for the Chargers. Junior outside midfielder Sammie Discher assisted on both of the first two goals. Discher would add another assist and a goal later in the game as she used her speed and excellent crossing ability to pace the offense.
“Sammie is playing in the right midfield and her job is to help the transition from the defense to the forwards” commented coach Lujan. “With her ability to constantly be on the run, checking into the midfield, connecting the ball, allowing the ball to flow through the defense, through the midfield, and provide the forwards, she responds well. Very energetic player, it’s very contagious. It kind of sets the tone for the rest of the team.”
“Sammie has speed and she works super hard,” added Massey on her teammate. “I work really well with Sammie, I’ll slip her in those little outside balls and then she just keeps feeding them through crosses, 90-degree balls, where she will go down the line and then pass back and then just bloop it in. I think that will be really effective this season.”
On the defensive end, freshman Cristina Soto stopped two grade-A chances for James Lick. The first of which came at the end of the first half. Soto ran a long ways to track down a clear-cut breakaway and steal the ball away before a shot was even attempted toward goal.
“She’s very athletic and she’s able to track well,” responded coach Lujan on his youngster. “One of the things we have been working on with the entire group is a lot of sprints. We set the standard where if you lose the ball, you have to be able to cover 110 yards give or take on a sprint. On that one in particular, I think she ran 40 or 45 yards. She was able to use her body to defend the ball without drawing the foul and she won advantage of the ball. These girls are in better condition and they are able to continue to make those repeated sprints, especially in front of goal and clear the ball out.”
“Cristina’s actually not even a defender. She’s a freshman on varsity it’s her first game and [Coach Lujan] goes ‘Cristina you’re playing defense’ and she just looks at me like ‘huh, me?’ But yeah that was awesome to see. She’s speedy, works hard.”
The Chargers will host their next preseason game against Gunderson on Monday Nov. 28.