Young varsity girls soccer team set to defy expectations

Leading+warm-ups+%28from+left%29%2C+junior+Mika+Schrader%2C+senior+Hannah+Reussner%2C+junior+Allie+Knapp%2C+senior+Lindsey+Wethington%2C+sophomore+Goosie+Zicker%2C+juniors+Marcela+Ellabracht+and+Sidney+Zavala+run+laps+around+the+football+field+during+practice.

Margaret Uhler

Leading warm-ups (from left), junior Mika Schrader, senior Hannah Reussner, junior Allie Knapp, senior Lindsey Wethington, sophomore Goosie Zicker, juniors Marcela Ellabracht and Sidney Zavala run laps around the football field during practice.

With an assist from freshman Maya Hodison, senior Hannah Reussner scores a goal to win the game, securing an unexpected victory in the season opener.

“We want to prove other people wrong,” sophomore Goosie Zicker said. “We’re not expected to win anything, not even a single game.”

The team has already overcome this prediction, beating Shawnee Heights in double overtime. While they lost the second game of the season 1-6 to Shawnee Mission East, coach Kelly Barah maintains a positive perspective.

“We are trying to get away from the mentality that we are rebuilding and just get back to winning soccer,” coach Kelly Barah said.

Last year, the girls varsity soccer team lost 12 graduating seniors. This season, Barah is looking for new players to step up and lead the team to victory.

“The practices are rough but Barah is considering what he has to deal with, and he’s doing a good job,” Zicker said.

There are now 22 girls on the team: five seniors, five juniors, four sophomores and eight freshman. The team has many young athletes and even a first-year player. While they feel little is expected of them for this season, the team remains optimistic.

“We’re really underestimated this year,” freshman Emma Perez said.

According to several players, Barah’s strategy is to treat this team the same way he does every year. If the girls can get the basics down, they can work their way up.

“[Barah] is just so knowledgeable about the game, but he’s also working to make us better people,” Perez said. “And so, I think that when he works with us at becoming better people, it helps us on the field.”

[Barah] is just so knowledgeable about the game, but he’s also working to make us better people. And so, I think that when he works with us at becoming better people, it helps us on the field.”

— Freshman Emma Perez

For some freshman players, going straight to varsity was intimidating.

“It was [intimidating] at first, but they’re all just so welcoming, so it just made me a lot more comfortable,” Perez said.

For Zicker, practicing with a predominantly underclassman team has greatly changed the dynamic from the upperclassman heavy team of last year. She says the girls don’t know each other as well yet, and it’s much quieter.

“Well, considering half the team is freshman, it’s quiet,” Zicker said. “The seniors and juniors are really loud, and the freshman are quiet.”

While still adapting to the atmosphere of high school athletics, Perez and her teammates look forward to the rest of the season and its learning experiences.

“I’m really excited to be able to play and learn from the other players,” Perez said. “It’s definitely something I have to work hard at because [the returning players] are a lot bigger and they’ve been playing a lot longer.”

Junior Sidney Zavala joined varsity this year, and she has faith this team will succeed.

“It’s a good balance,” Zavala said. “We’re getting to know each other when we see how our teammates play.”

Ultimately, the players’ main goal is to bury the idea that this team will not do well because they lost seniors.

“We’ve been doubted like, ‘Oh, you guys aren’t gonna do anything’ because we did lose a lot of seniors last year, but I think we’re just gonna try to do the best we can, and we’ll see where that gets us,” Zavala said.