A dominant season: Urban’s girls soccer team makes NCS

A+dominant+season%3A+Urbans+girls+soccer+team+makes+NCS

Jason Cinti

It’s the kind of boast most high school soccer coaches dream of making: “Most wins in school history, fewest losses in school history, most shutouts in school history, best record in school history, and best team in school history,” said Antony Reyes, head coach of the Urban girls varsity soccer team, when asked to describe the girls’ accomplishments this year.

When Reyes began coaching Urban soccer in 2007, there was no hope for a winning season. “We call that year tabula rasa — [a]’clean slate’,” said Reyes, who also teaches Spanish.

After finishing second in the Bay Counties League West Conference May 6, the girls varsity soccer team placed 7th in the North Coast Section Tournament (NCS) for the first time in school history, or since Urban was founded in 1966. Although the Blues lost a close one to Marin Academy 4-2 in penalty kicks, the girls fought hard.

This also meant that for the first time ever in Urban history, the team defeated Marin Academy, University, and Lick-Wilmerding during the regular season.

So how did they become so successful?     According to Reyes, the success arises from the senior leadership that is a product of the growth the program has undergone in the past five years. The four senior captains, Abby Diamond, Charlotte Harris, Sam Lucas, and Jennifer Ware have been on the team for all four years now, and have a good sense of the coaching staff’s style and the way in which the team is run.

The seniors also “started in November talking to [Reyes] and articulating clearly and specifically what they wanted to do this year and what they wanted their legacy to be,” said Reyes.

On a spring break team trip to Newport Beach, Calif., the senior captains were in charge of room assignments. Instead of dividing the rooms up by grades, “they organized everybody so that people who do not typically spend a lot of time with each other get a chance to,” said Greg Angilly, athletic director. Angilly was “really proud of [the captains] for making sure that they continually do things to build themselves as a team.”

Diamond, one of the senior captains, believes that their phenomenal team chemistry stems from their positive attitude. “We see other teams yelling at each other, yelling at the refs, and getting down on each other when someone messes up,” says Diamond. “But we are such good teammates; we are all so positive and comforting.”

Danielle Shorenstein (’12) agrees with Diamond. “There has been no drama on our team,” she said. “Everyone truly likes each other.”

Angilly, who has been an avid fan, has noticed that the girls are “less interested with who scored and more interested in scoring. When they score, it’s a celebration of a collective 11 people on the field.”

After winning a number of games in the regular season, advancing to the playoffs and NCS, the girls have experienced a sense of comradeship and have bonded to an extent that goes far beyond the soccer field.

Every game day, the senior captains think of a theme. Players have dressed up as businesswomen, kinky tourists, ghosts, Romans, and even pirates to “pump each other up,” said Diamond. They have team lunches together and send each other encouraging e-mails.

Also contributing to the girls’ team chemistry is the fact that the soccer program has gotten new talent this year. The team “gained a lot of really talented freshmen, [who] gave our offense more depth,” said Danielle Shorenstein (’12).

Thea Harvey-Brown (’14), one of the four freshmen on the team, said that, “at first it was slightly nerve-racking and intimidating to play with the older players, but that feeling only lasted during pre-season. I quickly became adjusted and welcomed to the team, thanks to the charismatic captains.”

Ricki Blakesberg (’14), enjoyed getting “to know all of the sophomores and upper classmen.”

Reyes thinks that, “when they win, they have fun … but on bus rides, in practice, during team meetings and video sessions, even on the two occasions that we lost this year, they are still picking each other up, still loving each other, and still laughing.”