Despite losing many eighth grade starters from last year, the Middle School girls A soccer team posted a phenomenal 2019 season, finishing with a 5-1 record. Falling 4-2 in their first game against Har-Bur Middle School, the team bounced back and won the following five games.
Head Coach Kyle Chapman credited the team’s success to their strong leadership skills this season. He mentioned eighth-graders Ava Leshem, Sophia Radmanovich, Georgia Louis, and Kelly Stepnowski, and seventh-grader Emily Knowles as key leaders of the team. “Sophia, Georgia, Emily, and the whole team has just been very enjoyable to watch them play soccer, so it’s been great,” he said.
Coach Chapman also praised Assistant Coach Hikmet Aslan for helping the girls work on their touches, finishes, and ball control, and he believed that it was a crucial factor in the girls’ skill development. “Hikmet is a genius. He’s awesome with the girls and all their success has been because of how he’s made them feel and what we’ve done in practice, and it’s just been really, really enjoyable,” he said.
Although the team had an exciting season all around, Coach Chapman considered their win versus Renbrook to be a highlight. “We were actually down so many players, including Georgia, Sophia, and Emily, so we had to really plug a lot of holes with people that were not normally asked to score goals and play defense. We actually took kids from other teams to fill in, and so it was a very exciting game. We won 2-1 and I think those other girls that don’t normally score all our goals got to experience what that was like, so that was great,” he said.
Eighth-grader midfielder Sophia Radmanovich agreed with coach Chapman’s emphasis on leadership. “When I was in sixth grade I looked up to the eighth- graders, and over the course of the last three years, I just learned about being a leader on the team and being a good teammate,” she said. Sixth-grader midfielder Lindsay Stepnowski praised the eighth graders’ leadership this season. “They show the sixth graders how to be a teammate and work together,” she said.
Coach Chapman has some worries about losing many eighth-graders for next season but is excited to take on the challenge. Many of their strong rising eighth-graders are considering playing on the [Upper School] varsity team, which would make it even more difficult to rebuild for their upcoming season.
“Even with our top returners they might not even be on our team, so there are a lot of unanswered questions and that’s exciting. My younger daughter will be coming next year, and I’m hoping to see that she makes the team and I get to have that experience as a dad as well.”