The Lady Stars left the soccer equipment behind on their annual pre-season trip to Ocoee River near Chattanooga, Tenn. The trip allows the players to bond off the soccer pitch. (Photo submitted)
Every day, you will see Siegel High School girls soccer head coach Eric Shelton teaching world history.
After school, Shelton’s transfers his teaching skills to the soccer pitch for his players. Since the school was opened in 2003, the Lady Stars have made a little history of their own, and they are looking for more in 2013.
During the program’s short history, Siegel has made the state tournament seven times, the final four on four occasions, and won a state title in 2008. After a 1-0 loss in the state title game to Brentwood in 2012, however, this year’s team is looking to bounce back.
“We are using it as a learning experience, and we are figuring out what we need to do to get back there,” Siegel senior defender Meredith White said recently after practice.
The route to Chattanooga started as the Lady Stars opened the season with a dominating 4-nil win at Battle Ground Academy.
“I think we are excited after the big win,” senior defender Julia Campbell said. “We know what we are capable of, and we hope for the best.”
The Lady Stars are returning with a lot of players from last year.
“This year we are focused on taking the successes of last year and building upon that foundation,” Shelton said. “We lost four seniors from last year’s team. This year, the younger girls have worked incredibly hard to replace those players. Luckily, we did not lose more than one player on any line from last year’s team. So, we have three out of four defenders returning, two out of three midfielders returning, and two out of three forwards returning.”
Three of those seniors who Shelton is counting on this season include defenders White, Campbell and midfielder Isabella Oviedo. Shelton said he hopes to bring the program its second state title, the first under this group of players.
None of these current players were in high school when the Lady Stars won their the state title five seasons ago, so the players and coaches agree it could be a tough road to return back to the state tournament and compete for a title.
“We have the players to compete for a title again this year,” Shelton said. “We have all of our leading scores from last season returning and an even stronger defense. One position that we are continuing to develop is goalkeeper. We lost an all-state keeper from last year and are making good progress in replacing her. Of course, you always have to get some breaks in order to win a title. Hopefully, we will able to handle any injuries we suffer throughout the year and they won’t occur at critical times.”
Any team knows that in order to a championship everyone has to be working for the same thing at all times. Some of the best sports teams in history have used different techniques trying to build team chemistry.
What has made the Lady Stars so successful in short time is not only their play on the pitch, but also a special trip that the team takes each offseason to the Ocoee River for a little whitewater rafting. This year was no different for this group of Lady Stars.
“It was a lot of fun, and it is something we do every year,” White said. “I think it helps with team building because we do activities and find out who the leaders will be on the team.”
Campbell added, “We all work together, and we are always there for each other. We never really get mad at each other, and we are all friends on and off the field.”
Just like in class and on the pitch, this group of Lady Stars hopes to continue making some history of their own by the end of the season.
Siegel (1-1) travels to Father Ryan High School in Nashville for its next match. Kickoff is at 4 p.m.