The girls varsity soccer team are now OHSAA Division III state champions. The team played in the state championship game on Friday, November 11, and won 1-0 against Ottawa-Glandorf at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio.
"This team has continued a tradition of excellence on the field and in the classroom, and by creating a family atmosphere for all 33 players," said Theresa “Hirsch” Hirschauer, head coach. “I could not be prouder of who they are as a team.”
What was the secret to their success? Hirsch believes it is leadership.
"The senior captains – CJ Debra, Sydney Bortz, Sami Hess, and Alexia Lander-Vegas – have been tremendous," said Hirschauer. "The team improved every game throughout the 17-game regular season with different players stepping up at different moments."
At the beginning of the season, the team was ranked number two in the region, but by the time playoffs came around, they were a number one seed.
"To me, leadership is the culmination of many things. It's driving the younger girls to practices and games...including everyone in team traditions and superstitions...organizing events to ensure that we can have fun as a team," said CJ Debra `23, team goalie. "I have learned that you must be patient and understanding to succeed. People make mistakes in life and in soccer; it's all part of the process."
This was the soccer team’s fifth appearance in the state final. The last time the team won the state championship title was in 2019 when the four seniors on the current team were freshmen.
"As a senior and a captain, my most important role is leading the younger girls and preparing them for next year when we won't be there," continued DeBra. "If there is a sense of community throughout the entire team, the team works better on the field and gets along as a group of sisters. If the younger players are nervous about a big game, I have to act like I'm not nervous and provide a calm atmosphere for them."
Although the team took many shots on goal throughout the match, Elizabeth Zimmerman `24 scored the game-winning goal in the ninth minute of play.
"Leadership is very important when it comes to being on the field and in the classroom, too," said Sydney Bortz `23. "No matter where I am, I try to lead by example. When I'm at practice, I make sure I'm focused on the practice and show the younger teammates how to focus before a big game. I do the same thing in my classes. Setting the example to doing my work or listening to my teachers also impacts the classroom."
Click here for pictures and videos from the game.