Dominant soccer teams look forward to the state tournament


Photo credit Riley I

Just one month into the varsity soccer seasons, the teams are in excellent shape for the state championships this spring. Both the boys and girls teams have started the 2021 season with undefeated records, and they hope to continue this trend all the way to the state tournament.

Considering this is the first year Westminster athletes are having to navigate playing a sport with the COVID pandemic, this soccer season is one that no one could have predicted. Despite this, players and coaches are continuing to give it their all.

Boys coach Scott Sydner has coached the varsity team for the past 22 years and learned the importance of upperclassmen setting an example for the younger players and the positive impact it can have on the team’s success.

“We are working on using the experience of some upperclassmen to help us maintain our team culture and standards, as well as continually enforcing the COVID protocols,” said Snyder.

High school sports at Westminster this school year have been able to continue amid COVID, but practices and games undoubtedly look a little different than usual. For one, players must wear masks at all times, whether while training or competing. Due to the COVID protocols like social distancing and mask-wearing, bonding has been a challenge for many players and coaches.

“COVID protocols certainly make connecting with our team more difficult because we cannot do as much team bonding outside school,” said junior Helen Moseley. “Although COVID has certainly made this difficult, I think we are doing a good job of making the best out of the situation.”

Snyder also recognizes the impact COVID restrictions have on his players and their ability to connect. 

“It really hurts the team building and bonding; one of the favorite things about the boys program is that we travel to out-of-state tournaments, and the downtime spent together in these places is a great time for the boys,” said Snyder. “Not getting to spend as much time together off the field has hurt our chemistry.”

Keeping players and staff safe is a top priority for the athletics department, and they use methods to ensure people stay safe. While everyone is doing their best to stay safe, there will always be a level of uncertainty within the community. To combat this, in addition to weekly testing for everyone on campus, students who have been in close contact with the virus on campus are alerted immediately and told to stay home. While this is a crucial factor in keeping Westminster safe, it can disrupt the team’s season. However, both teams recognize the importance of a positive mindset, especially during these unpredictable times.

“I think the [girls] team’s biggest strength is supporting each other and hyping each other up,” said freshman Margot Carr. “Being able to stay focused in a high-pressure situation like a tough game is crucial.” 

Seniors are particularly excited for this season, considering the abrupt and unexpected cancellation of spring sports last year.

“I saw how upset the seniors were last year not getting to finish their season so I just feel grateful that I will hopefully get to complete mine,” said senior Weyimi Agbeyegbe.

In an unprecedented senior season, the attacking midfielder looks forward to enjoying a few key experiences on the field representing Westminster.

 “I’m looking forward to playing Lovett for the last time, and of course the playoffs and hopefully the state finals,” said Agbeyegbe. 

As the chance for redemption after last year’s upsetting end to the season, seemingly every player is looking forward to the 2021 state championship.

“Our past few games have gone really well, and the season is looking very promising, and we [the girls team] may even go undefeated this year for the first time in a while,” said Carr. “I think we have a really strong chance at winning state.” 

Before COVID, the girls team had won the past five Class AAA state titles. 

“The team has done really well the last couple of years and I hope we can push through everything going on with COVID and continue the streak,” said Carr.

Players on the boys team are similarly optimistic about their season.

“We have a great team with lots of talented players, and even with players out because of close-contact, we are still undefeated so I am confident we can win state,” said Agbeyegbe.

Should the boys varsity team take home the state title this spring, the team would earn their 15th state championship since the school’s opening in 1951. They won their 14th title in 2019 and broke the record for the most championships in the history of GHSA boys soccer. The girls team broke the same record for GHSA girls soccer in 2019 with 13 titles after beating rival Lovett 3-1 in overtime.

Two more state championship titles for Westminster’s varsity soccer teams this spring will not only help them break their own records but prove that the Wildcats have what it takes to come out on top, even during a pandemic.