Despite an 0-5 start, there are signs of individuals with the Lady Seahawks soccer team who are providing promise for the team.
The front line of forwards junior Lydia Strickland and newcomer junior Rosie Davis is moving to be a nuisance for opposing defenders, said coach Concepcion Ledezma. They combined to score a goal in its 9-1 loss to Lincoln in the team's second game of the season at home Nov. 17.
“The timing of the scoring gave the team a bit of a lift. It tied the game at 1-1 15 minutes into the match,” said the coach. “I could sense that Lincoln got panicky, even after they made it 2-1.
“In both losses to them last year, I don't remember getting shots on goal. Eventually their experience overwhelmed us. Nonetheless, it was an encouraging sign for us,” said Ledezma. “While Lydia, who collected the assists, and Rosie did an excellent job of pressuring the opposing defenses, we still have to work on getting the rest of the team provide support while they attack."
He said the two young ladies are leading the team in winning loose balls in one-on-one battles against opponents. Through three games, Lydia has 14 and Davis has eight. Seventh-grader Laelah Carranza collected six, for third on the team. Four players are tied with three each, which is not enough through the first three games.
"(Assistant) Coach (Jeff) Strickland and I were equally amazed that Laelah is able to have the third-most one-on-one wins against her opponent, considering she's barely 5 feet tall and still in middle school. She plays with a lot of heart at left wing, and that's the kind of standard the rest of the team should pursue,” said Ledezma.
“I always tell the girls that if they want to score, they have to get possessions. To get possession, the individuals have to win the 50-50 balls,” he said. “The rest of the team needs to step up there. It starts with the small battles."
Starting goalkeeper and co-captain senior Becca Willis has performed well, despite the constant pressure from the opposition, he said. She kept the Seahawks in the game during a 3-0 loss Nov. 19 at Gadsden County before the home team put Franklin away with two late goals to seal the game.
After falling to Port St. Joe 8-0 on Nov. 15 in their opener, the team lost 6-0 Nov. 27 to their rivals to the west.
“There was tangible improvement from our players,” said Ledezma. “First of all, I'm aware the Tigers Shark coach Bobby Alexander showed great sportsmanship by pulling the gas off the pedal, which benefitted our girls, too.
“It was encouraging to see our girls make passes to supporting teammates; they realize that the ball doesn't have to be passed forward all the time, especially when passing lanes are clogged in the front. They kept fighting, not giving up, and that's all I can ask of them,” he said.
The Lady Seahawks fell 8-0 to Rocky Bayou in an away game Friday 8-0.
“The game ended in the 75th minute. It's good to see the girls not give up, and still going for the little battles, such as the one-on-ones for loose balls,” said Ledezma. “We're currently 0-5, but morale is high.”