Last season, the Severna Park High School girls soccer team made it all the way to the Maryland 4A Final—only to fall to Bethesda-Chevy Chase in penalty kicks.
This year, with a third of the season remaining, the team is sitting at 5-6 heading into Thursday night's game at Southern. What’s missing? Seventeen players from the state finalist team.
“It’s a very young team, and they have to learn how to win,” said four-year varsity coach Todd Clark. “Last year we had 10 seniors graduate. We had a couple players who already committed to play D-I lacrosse so they decided to sit out this year. A couple players are injured. So yeah 17 new players.”
Clark said the current team also has been plagued by injuries, but right now the group is looking past that and focusing on the playoffs.
After losing to Bethesda-Chevy Chase last season, the Falcons are hoping to build off their playoff experience as they look to make another run.
“The tournament will start in about two, two-and-a-half weeks so we want to keep the team moving forward every game,” Clark said. “We have made a lot of progress and we see growth in every area.”
While the team may have lost in penalty kicks last year, the Falcons few returning players say they learned something from the loss and benefited in the long run.
“Making it to states was a really good experience and it really brought the team together all through playoffs,” said senior Katie Gerrity. “We didn’t win but it was a great experience and it really helped me improve.”
Clark said that at the beginning of the season he didn’t set specific record goals, but wanted the virtually new team to learn to play together—something he said is a work in progress.
In the Falcons’ recent Broadneck loss, Clark said the team played not to lose, which caused them to give up goals. Moving forward, he hopes the team continues to play as a group.
“To me, part of being involved in a team sport is learning what you are capable of doing individually, but also how you can help your teammates,” Clark said. “Also working with your team so that even if you haven’t played with them before, you are working to play with and off of them as one group. We’re getting close to where we need to be. Now we just have to put it together.”
With a majority of the season behind them, the common goal amongst the team now is to do well in the playoffs.
Last’s year team outshot Bethesda-Chevy Chase 23-3 in the championship game, according to Clark, who said they had trouble finishing shots. This year, they are working to avoid that.
“Last year we had some very strong personalities and this year we don’t have that strong dominance, so now it is trying to push the kids to make an impact on the game,” Clark said. “It’s not just being out there on the field running around having fun. It needs to be that and making a difference in the game.”