It’s been a long season so far for the Lady Seahawks girls soccer team, as they are still without a win.
But coach Concepcion Ledezma, a veteran coach and teacher, isn’t despairing.
“Nonetheless, it's been enjoyable. The girls are enjoying themselves while experiencing growing pains,” he said. “The girls, as well as the parents, know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I was fortunate enough to get Jeff Strickland, a local youth coach, as an assistant who knows the girls very well (including his two daughters on the team).”
The winless team (they did manage to secure forfeit Nov. 25 against Marianna) has a very young roster, with eight players in middle school.
“This is definitely a house-cleaning season,” said Ledezma. “Four seniors (plus a few underclassmen) who played last year decided not to return when they were required to show up on time to tryouts and practices, unlike the previous years when "provisions" were made for being cheerleaders and band.”
Ledezma initially had 53 players sign up but it’s was whittled down considerably. “Many mistakenly believed this was a casual pursuit, instead of the varsity sport that required commitment. I did cut a handful in the end after many weeded themselves out.
“It is an uphill battle, but the girls are buying into it and plugging along; anyone who witnesses our practices wouldn't know that we were winless because the girls are learning and having fun,” he said.
“I get 100 percent attendance in practice almost every time. Also, more than half the players on the team have experience in youth soccer, but they've developed so many bad habits, including the kickball mentality,” Ledezma said. “They're almost re-learning how to play the game correctly.
The scorer against Marianna in the Nov. 6 opener was Allie Zingarelli, a senior winger/forward who is a co-captain with experience since seventh grade, but took a year off last year. She scored on a free kick from about 25 yards out that made the score 2-1 before Marianna resumed control.
“She's been a wonderful leader, along with the other co-captains. She knew the growing pain was coming; as a matter of fact, I was touched by her answer to a questionnaire. In the question, "How do you plan to contribute to a positive team atmosphere?" her answer was "I want to help the less experienced players,” said the coach.
“That's the kind of character people we have as leaders on this team,” said Ledezma. “I'm working to get her and the other senior, Michaela Cassidy, a look from Middle Georgia State University, Anderson University (Ind.) and Polk State College (Lakeland). There should be a payoff for them, despite the outcomes of this season's matches. The other co-captain is junior defender Becca Willis, who has had to start at goalie for the experience.
After the 8-1 loss in the opener, the team fell 8-0 to Perry, Lincoln, and Rutherford, and then 7-0 to Port St. Joe. They then lost 8-0 to Freeport, and Port St. Joe, before the Marianna forfeit. The team then lost 9-1 to Godby, and 8-0 to Port St. Joe, twice, and Rocky Bayou.