Striving to Score: Girls Soccer 2017


Emily Cooper

Just minutes after the girls’ soccer team lists are tweeted, senior Kendall Dunbar’s fingers frantically graze her iPhone keyboard as she creates the new varsity GroupMe. The smiling blue hashtag spins as she changes the name of the chat to match this season’s slogan ‘Make it Count’ and begins to add the 23 girls on the list. Twenty-three sets of shin guards and cleats. Twenty-three plates of pasta at team dinners. Twenty-three new teammates- the most that Dunbar has ever played with in her past four years at East.

Not only did this year’s varsity team exceed the size of any of Dunbar’s previous teams, it is one of the largest in the history of the program. From the 11 seniors to the rare four freshman on the roster, talent from every grade level was represented by its 23 members.

“I’m very excited for the season because we have so many talented individual players,” junior Maddy Muther said. “Even though the team is big, I think once we get organized and used to playing together, we will do really well.” 

Head coach, Jamie Kelly, was also excited to work with the large team this season. Five years ago, the boys’ varsity team of 2012 had 24 players and made it all the way to State, making Kelly optimistic about this season. 

He believed that just like the boys’ team, the girls this year could learn to use the size of the team to their advantage. More girls on the team meant more fresh legs to help out during tough games and more talent all around for the team to use.

“Everyone is on this team for a reason. I wouldn’t put girls on varsity if I didn’t think they could play at the varsity level and help us out,” Kelly said. “The size and large range of talent this year will serve us well if we use it.”

However, having such a large team had its downfalls as well. Some players would need to play new positions where they weren’t as comfortable or would have less playing time to fit the needs of the team.

“Everyone will just have to be flexible and shift around on the field,” Dunbar said. “It will be important to have the right attitude about it, and stay positive no matter where you are on the field because Kelly will do what is best for the team.”

While the large team did create a lack of playing time, it wasn’t always a bad thing. The fight for minutes on the field would spark healthy competition within the team.

“Competition is one of the best things for our players,” Kelly said. “The girls will be forced to work harder for playing time, which will as a result, improve the team as a whole.”

Just as Kelly had hoped, players began to push themselves and work harder for more playing time. They pushed for that extra completed pass and the stronger shot in the corner of the net. Pushed through every yard sprinted and every tackle they made. The 23-player team constantly pushed the limits this season so they could truly ‘Make it Count.’