By Alicia Dziak

The Varsity girls soccer squad is made up of only one senior, 11 juniors, four sophomores and one eighth grader, led by coach Eric Holler, a SGI high school teacher.

As of late last week, the girls were 6-5 overall and 5-4 in division. “We won the games I anticipated that we should win and lost the games that I figured would be a challenge,” explained Holler. “Holland beat us twice and has been atop the division for as long as I can remember, and not too long ago won states.  Tonawanda also beat us twice and were in the sectional semifinal last year, and lost to eventual state runner-up.  So, our four division losses were to quality programs.  We were competitive in the games, but didn’t make the most of our opportunities.” This week, the team played three league games at Lackawanna, JFK and Eden, and Holler noted the importance of showing up “ready to play and string together a full 80 minute effort.”

Following regular season play, “Sectionals are after that and anything can happen there,” Holler said. “My expectation is to at least win a couple games and see where it goes from there.”

Holler added that, “For the remainder of the regular season, it is just working hard and winning the games we should in preparation for sectionals.  We must do our best to win out our divisional games in order to have a better seed for sectionals.  Our biggest competition has yet to be determined.  With the majority of the season over, we must focus on our next game and make sure we take care of business one game at a time.  Once in sectionals, each opponent will be dangerous and that will be our biggest competition.”

According to Holler, the team’s key players include: captain Jena Schelble, who contributes with goals and assists, takes all the set pieces (goal kicks, corner kicks, etc.) and challenges every 50/50 ball; Grace Zabawa, who contributes offensively and is the top scorer, challenges 50/50 balls and has a solid work rate; Talia Mangano and Nyah Solly,  the core of the defense, who both have a lot of pressure on them and must defend against skilled and fast paced strikers; and captain Carrie Dickinson, the goalie. “Goalie will always be important, and can be the difference in a game,” Holler noted.  “A timely save can serve as momentum and give the team the opportunity to win it.”

Holler sees the team’s biggest strength as the relationships on the team.  “The girls genuinely like one another and have developed a good bond,” he said.

Their biggest challenge is the lack of experience.  “Springville doesn’t have the same amount of girls playing soccer year-round as other programs do.  Therefore, it presents challenges on chemistry and skill level,” Holler explained. “With that said, we have pretty good chemistry and skill level is there…just need the consistency.”

As far as reaching the season’s goals? “Each player filled out team and individual goals for the year and I did as well,” Holler said. “The consensus was that we wanted to be competitive in every game, win more than we lose, become a ‘family,’ and continually improve.  We have done that so far and want to continue that into sectionals and even offseason.  I felt we had a chance to win the division if we stole a couple games versus Tonawanda and Holland and got some help.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t pull out the wins and we are sitting in the middle of the division.  The goal is to win games in sectionals, upset a few teams.”

Best of luck to the Varsity girls as they wrap up their regular season this week!