By Matthew Richards
“Go further.” That has been the team motto for the Lady Lions soccer team this season. Go further in the playoffs than they did last season and be able to host a playoff game. That would prove to be quite difficult this year, as the COVID-19 pandemic had other plans.
“We had to keep the team in cohorts to start the year,, said Head Coach Eric Kugler, “And we’ve had five games outright cancelled, one with less than 24 hours notice.”
“It’s been rough,” senior Annalisa Smith said. “COVID is something our team took really seriously, and it paid off because we’ve had no positive cases thus far. It definitely was a barrier for team bonding early on, too. It was hard trying to learn new players through masks and separate playing cohorts. The capacity limits were hard, too. It’s really frustrating not being able to have fans for the majority of the season, especially for our home playoff, which we worked really hard to get.”
The Lady Lions carry a record of 12 wins, five losses, and one draw and the 14th overall seed in the Division III playoffs as of this writing with key victories against Slidell High (5-4) and Live Oak (3-2). This year’s squad boasts a roster with a blend of both youth and experience with eight seniors and 12 freshmen.
“The freshmen were really reserved at the beginning of the season and didn’t talk much,” said senior Sara Soileau, “but now I feel that it’s become super easy for everyone to have fun now. As the season progressed we started to work better as a team during games because of how close we had gotten.”
This season has definitely been one to remember for the seniors on the team. As Sage Allen commented, “Trying to change and adapt to life in COVID is hard especially when thinking about how group gatherings will work. Our graduation, prom, and senior nights will not look the same. We all have to prepare and be ready for changes. Luckily, the soccer teams were able to have an amazing, fun, and very tearful senior night. It made me so happy that we were able to celebrate my teammates who have worked so hard and diligently over the years.”
Coach Kugler, along with his new assistant coaches from middle school in Coach Polson and Coach Cary, have helped to build the sense of camaraderie among the girls this season, even establishing a team goal that “everyone scores,” a task that is near completion. The Lady Lions are coming off an impressive seven game winning streak heading into the playoffs and are in red-hot form. As the playoffs begin, and the ladies prepare to face #19 Cecilia High Bulldogs on Friday, we wish them the absolute best!
Go, Lady Lions!