Girls’ soccer carries on four-year reign as AAA champs

Originally published on May 28, 2015

The girls’ soccer team beat out the Washington Eagles for four years in a row. Junior forward and midfielder Meylin Rodriguez angles for a goal. Photo by Leonard Caoili

Varsity girls’ soccer wrapped up the season on May 9 against the Washington Eagles with a fourth consecutive championship, continuing an unparalleled streak.

“I think it’s good to keep us all on our toes and improving.”

The Cardinals had trained for the Academic Athletic Association championship game against the Washington Eagles since their last game against them ended 0–0 in the middle of the season. The team had worked on specific tactics to break down the opposing team’s defense, according to head coach Gene Vrana. “It was a combination of both the team defense and also our individual players’ skills with certain kinds of passes and certain kinds of shots to take, which the girls executed beautifully,” he said.

Sophomore defender Isabel Streiffer drives by several Eagle players. Photo by Leonard Caoili

To focus on dismantling the Eagles’ strong defense, the Cardinals practiced passing combinations and methods that helped set the players in motion. These tactics were implemented smoothly during the first half of the game, according to Vrana. During the second half, the players began to lose accuracy with their passes. Instead of taking a simple and direct pass, some players opted for more complicated ones, resulting in less control over the ball and slower play.

The Eagles kicked up their game during the last 15 minutes, putting pressure on the Cardinals’ defense. Four midfielders came in to help the three back players. This effective combination is why Washington was held scoreless, according to Vrana.

Streiffer lobs a pass down the field. Photo by Leonard Caoili

This season, the coaches put emphasis on a dynamic offense as well as a strong defense. “The new formation that the coaches implanted this year was good for all of us,” senior midfielder Mikki Okamoto said. “Even though a lot of our season isn’t as competitive as we could wish, I think it’s good to keep us all on our toes and improving.”

“We needed to have goals beyond just the success of the season in terms of the record.”

This season was Vrana’s first as head coach, and he brought new ideas to the playing field. “This year the coaching styles were different than last year, and our opposing teams have greatly improved,” sophomore defender Amanda Kallenburg said. “Some of the games were much more challenging than last season.”

Vrana set high expectations for the team, and throughout the season, the Cardinals have worked hard to meet them. “At the beginning of the season, all of the players and coaches made a commitment to improve,” Vrana said. “We needed to have goals beyond just the success of the season in terms of the record. The girls really made that commitment, and I was impressed that they hung in there.”

Senior center-midfielder Kayla McCord prepares for a long pass. Photo by Leonard Caoili