Soccer warms up for new season ahead

As winter sports wrap up, the athletic focus shifts to spring sports. One of the most anticipated of these sports is soccer. Coaches Snyder, the boys varsity coach, and Meyer, the girls varsity coach, both look forward to a great season with their teams with immense success.

“The team has a good combination of chemistry and talent,” said Snyder. “That could be the perfect combination needed to build off of last season’s success.”

Last season, the boys varsity soccer team finished the season as the first seed from Region 4. After two decisive victories in the state tournament, the Wildcats lost to Oconee County 1-0 in the quarterfinals. The girls, who went 17-2 and finished as the second seed from the region behind rival Blessed Trinity, outscored opponents 29-1 in the postseason tournament. In the state championship, the girls got revenge on the Titans with a 3-0 victory to win the state championship in the AAA classification.

Both teams are looking forward to great seasons this year.

“The girls are trying to put up a strong defense of our title,” said Meyer, “but it is harder to repeat than it is to win.”

The coaches’ and players’ ultimate goal is to defend last season’s title. Other goals include having a season that all the girls can be proud of.

“Hopefully, the team will be able to walk off the field and feel satisfied,” said Meyer.

During the offseason, the teams tried to work together as much as possible.

“We had little unofficial practices dating back to September, which helped build team chemistry as well as provide a conditioning workout,” said senior goalkeeper Benton Wood.

Snyder commended the players’ efforts in training.

“The guys have been working harder than teams of recent memory,” said Snyder.

Meyer knows that most girls on the varsity team play year round. Meyer believes that the conditioning workout wouldn’t do much to help get the girls in shape, as they are practicing everyday with their club teams.

“All of us play together at Top Hat,” said senior Logue Shamburger.

While most play together outside of Westminster, Meyer enjoys getting all the girls together to reinforce that chemistry as well as introduce different tactics.

As with all sports, if you are still playing late into the season, the team had great success. Usually, there is a specific date such as Memorial Day for baseball and Thanksgiving for football.  For soccer, the state championships are typically held the weekend of and sometimes even the day of graduation. “My main goal for this season is to see ourselves practicing up to graduation,” said Snyder.

Obviously it will take lots of hard work to be practicing into May, but Snyder hopes to outwork everyone they play.

Tryouts for soccer started during JanTerm this year.

“The girls don’t start cleanly on a particular date,” said Meyer.

Both teams try to give about a week to see what the players are capable of before making cuts.

The process gets complicated when swimmers who qualify for the state meet and varsity girls basketball players miss multiple weeks of practice.

“This whole process is messy,” said Meyer, “but it’s the only way to have a team ready for the first games.”

Seven players and six starters have graduated from last year’s boys team. Losing more than half of the starters is certainly a problem, but the Cats are ready with reserves from last year as well as new players such as Daniel Desouza, Alex Gracey, Phillip Sumardi, Alan Xu, and Daniel Xu.

“Desouza is already having an impact for us,” said Snyder, “and we are looking forward to good things from him.”

The girls lost a great midfielder, Christina Lopez. This season, the team has five seniors: Morgan Brister, Miller Leeson, Hannah Morgan, Taylor Penn, and Logue Shamburger. Leeson and Shamburger, who will be playing soccer in college at Furman University and the University of Alabama, respectively, have provided necessary senior leadership during tryouts and the first practices, as Brister and Penn were busy with winter sports.

“We had a strong bench last year,” said Shamburger. “My main goal as a senior is to keep everyone comfortable.”

The seniors provided needed friendship and advice through experience.

Each year, there are big games that the players and coaches have circled on their calendars. For the boys, Wood is looking forward to playing St. Pius, Blessed Trinity, Lovett and Greater Atlanta Christian. The girls are looking forward to similar games. Meyer is excited to see Blessed Trinity two or three times this season. In their classification, Meyer is expecting challenges from Lovett as well as St. Pius.

For both teams, the players are hoping for a state championship, and Wood advises fans to come out and watch the team win. There will be plenty of opportunities to see Wildcat victories, and with all the practice and work, there is a good chance that the soccer teams with be playing for the state championship in May.