Girls soccer team inexperienced but talented

By Matt Raab, Sports Editor

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In a Sept. 4 story for the Gazette, Blair girls soccer coach Bob Gibb suggested that his team was the Joe Frazier to B-CC’s Mohammed Ali.

The CHS girls soccer team would beg to differ.

“Frazier fought Ali three times and won once,” head coach Haroot Hakopian said. “We’ve played B-CC three times in the postseason. We’re second to B-CC and second best in the state.”

Girls soccer has lost three times in the postseason to B-CC, and each year B-CC has gone on to win the state title, according to Hakopian. The team feels they are the clear Joe Frazier of MCPS girls soccer.

“We’ve played B-CC eight times in the 11 years I’ve coached,” Hakopian said. “We’ve gone into overtime six times, and all of the games have been one-goal games.”

A 5-0 victory over Clarskburg was another step towards the regular season game with B-CC Oct. 9 that is being branded as a pivotal moment of this season. The win helped the team establish comfort and proficiency in the starting lineup, which has seen significant changes since last year.

“When we play well, we’re easily one of the best teams in the county,” said Hakopian. “When we don’t, we aren’t.”

With a 2-0 victory over Watkins Mill Sept. 12, the girls soccer team improved its record to 2-1 as the season started to swing into full gear.

“This is a more talented team than last year all around,” senior Jenny Lewis said. “Everyone came back better than last year.”

The dominant shutout of Watkins Mill was preceded by the team’s first loss against Holy Cross 2-1 Sept. 6.

Lewis attributed the loss to fixable growing pains as the team adjusted to changes at the beginning of the season. She identified the loss, with the exception of senior goalkeeper Rebecca Ewel’s numerous saves, as an early low point in the season.

“We fell apart, but we know what we need to work on,” Lewis said. “We were lazy on defense, we let them force us out of our game plan.”

The team made a strong showing in its first game, beating Paul VI 4-3, Sept. 4.

A strong offensive presence is ultimately what won the team’s first game, despite the loss of several goal-scoring seniors. The offensive attack was led by senior Zoe Forster’s two goals and a strong performance by freshman Juliana Comer.

“We were a little rocky at first, but we’ve started to figure out how to play with each other,” said junior captain Carly Shapiro.

The Bulldogs lost to B-CC in the regional finals for the third year in a row last season, a trend the team intends to reverse in 2012. Although the roster is made up of a large number of underclassmen, limiting the team’s experience, Shapiro feels the team has still improved overall.

“A lot of the underclassmen weren’t used to playing varsity,” Shapiro said. “But we have a lot of skill and they get used to it. I don’t think it will be a problem.”

The most noticeable changes from last year have occurred in the front line of the team’s offense.

According to Shapiro, the team’s roster lost two of its biggest goal scorers among graduating seniors, but the loss is counterbalanced by a consistently strong midfield.

“We have two really good outside mids, Sarah Johnston and Jenny Lewis, and that’s always been a Churchill strength,” Shapiro said.

Both Lewis and Shapiro feel the team’s early season play is the start of a playoff run.

“We’re the team to beat this year,” Shapiro said. “This year I think we’re going all the way.”

The team is confident in its ability to succeed.

“B-CC is going down,” Lewis said. “This is our year.”