COVID-19’s collision with society shook the entire world. Changes had to be made and some normalcy had to be sacrificed. However, for the DHS girls soccer team, the changes introduced in 2020 were just the beginning.
A few months before the new season’s start, it was announced that Spencer Sandow would replace Erica Bader as the new head coach for the varsity girl’s soccer team. A coaching change, after an already unusual year, was a very jarring experience for the few returning players. Not only did they have to revive a program that had been paused for nearly two years, but they had to adjust to a new coaching style as well.
In the face of all these looming obstacles, the team still managed to take to the pitch, seemingly even stronger than before. The group earned their first win against MHS in seven years and won the first district championship for the program since 2015.
This was quite a dramatic swing from where they had been the past several years before. Sandow believes that the team’s chemistry, trust in each other, and strategy is what helped the girls succeed.
“We were very deep last season, so we always had a very high level [of play] no matter who was on the field,” Sandow said. “The girls played very hard for each other and it was fun to see. I think with the things I mentioned (betterment of team culture, winning more fifty-fifty balls, starting games stronger) combined with some of the new ideas I was able to show them… it all just seemed to click last season.”
Senior captain, Maddy Estes, agrees that the new approaches and attitude may have contributed to the team’s successes.
“I think the program in general was taken a lot more seriously this past season,” Estes said. “Our new coach came in motivated to see us succeed and we worked to make it happen. I also think that after losing a whole season to COVID, we were much more motivated to get back out there and do well.”
Sandow believes that the atmosphere of the team can really affect the outcome of the game.
“I believe the better your team culture is the higher chance you have of producing positive results,” Sandow said. “We have a lot of girls playing travel soccer together so there is a good understanding between players and how they like to play.”
With all of the changes that came about with a new coaching style, Estes believes that the team chemistry is what really improved for the team.
“I think our team chemistry was great this past season,” Estes said. “We had a pretty much new team last year and also a new coach. But, Coach Spencer made sure we worked on team bonding and we all got close which was beneficial.”
However, no matter how well a team clicks, there are bound to be some rough patches in any season. This upcoming year, Sandow hopes to avoid these by implementing a few more key ideas within the group.
“One thing that will be a big emphasis next season is confidence,” Sandow said. “There were some games last spring against certain schools that I know we psyched ourselves out beforehand and then we didn’t play as well in those games. We have to remember we can compete with anyone and just need to focus on working our hardest every game.”
With a few minor mindset tweaks and some more strategic work, Sandow and Estes believe that the team should be in excellent shape to take on the new season.
“We’ll be going from the hunters to the hunted,” Sandow said. “Now that we are the reigning district champions and were one win away from a share for the SVL title, we are going to be the team everyone wants to beat and with that comes added pressure. I have the utmost confidence we will be able to handle this obstacle and we will put ourselves in a position to have another great season.”