Respect All, Fear None
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There are many different aspects that define the girls varsity soccer team: long sleeve, dri fit game-day shirts, pregame meals at Jason’s Deli and early 2000s “throwback” rap music blasting from a portable stereo on away game bus trips. However, nothing exemplifies the team as well as the tight-knit camaraderie between the players.
“We’re amazing friends and good teammates,” senior captain Emily Sample said. “I think that correlates to being on the field.”
With the help of their on-field cohesiveness, the girls varsity team clinched a spot in the State playoffs after defeating Denton Guyer 1-0 on March 14.
“Our district is very competitive, but we’ve pretty much stayed at the top of the standings, sliding a few spots here and there,” Sample said. “Every game is hard work, but I think we’ve had a strong season so far.”
The team earned third place in District play and looks forward to the postseason.
“What I’m most looking forward to is getting the chance to play more games with the team,” Sample said. “Our season could have been over after last Friday, but it’s exciting to know we have at least one more game together, especially being a senior.”
Unlike many teams in their district, West’s captains consist of both seniors and juniors: seniors Sample and Mariel Gordon and juniors Jackie Stacy and Zoe Smith.
“On and off the field, all four of them are excellent examples of what West soccer is about,” Coach Tara Balogh said. “The captains are great team players and care about what the team needs. They put the team first and themselves second.”
Having underclassmen captains helps for future years to come and Balogh is confident that Stacy and Smith will help continue the team’s legacy and commitment.
“This is my first year as a captain so I want to lead this team in the best way possible and represent Plano West as best that I can,” Stacy said. “How you treat the other team and the referees is really important.”
Stacy believes that the culmination of faces, both new and old, has allowed the team to grow and improve.
“We had a lot of sophomores that are new to varsity this year, but now we have experience under our belts this year and I think that’s helping a lot,” Stacy said. “Our team is still pretty young but very mature.”
While the varsity team will have many returning players next year, they did not fail to recognize the accomplishments of the six graduating seniors, Sample, Gordon, Grace Ito, Sophia Laday, Alex Legamaro and Karina Williams, on March 4, Senior Night versus Plano East.
“All six of them have been a huge part of our success,” Balogh said. “They each battle in whatever position they’re playing. Whatever role they have, they’ve completely embraced it.”
The team enters the State playoffs hoping to redeem themselves from a disappointing second-to-last place finish in District last season, preventing them from appearing in the postseason.
“We had a little bit of a tough year last year,” Sample said. “My goal personally is to just not let that stop us this year and hopefully make it to the State championship.”
Balogh highlighted the team’s perseverance as one of many of the positive attributes they possess, other than their skills on the soccer pitch.
“It isn’t just one or two players having a chip on their shoulder from last year,” Balogh said. “It is our entire returning varsity group. When I met everyone in their individual meetings, even those new to varsity, their goal was to make playoffs. That’s special. They’re all on the same page.”
Although the team members have a collective competitive goal to achieve, Sample and Stacy both agreed that the best part about playing soccer for West is their teammates.
“The relationships that we have together as teammates and friends is what stands out,” Stacy said. “That’s definitely what makes playing way more fun.”
The team’s first playoff game was on March 24 at 6:00 p.m. versus Flower Mound Marcus at The Colony High School.
“What I’m most excited about is seeing our hard work day in and day out come to fruition,” Balogh said. “Now we have our eyes set on a bigger prize.”