Kicking It Up A Notch

After having a rough start to their season, the City High Girls Soccer Team, started a winning streak following their win against West High. The girls are excited about their new coach, Philip Hansen, and have high hopes for this season.

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There’s an hour and 15 minutes on the clock, yet no goal has been scored. The City High v. West girls soccer game is a highly anticipated match and seems like it will end in a tie. However, with less than four minutes left, Sam Schroder ‘19 passes the ball to Mia DePrenger ‘22, who scores. The student section roars with cheers upon seeing the ball hitting the back of the net.

“It felt just as good as it always does. After beating [West] twice last year, we were definitely more confident going into the game this year but we knew they were a different team and it would still be a challenge,” Madeline Pugh ‘19 said.

This game took place on April 5 at the University of Iowa Soccer Fields, and as expected, was the team’s most attended game of the season.

“It was great to see the freshman play so well because I remember how scared I was playing in my first West game,” Pugh said. “Us seniors wanted so badly to end our run against West with a bang, and I think we did just that.”

With a time of 3:31 left in the game, DePrenger managed to shoot the deciding goal.

“I knew that I had a chance and that the clock was ticking down to its final minutes so I knew that I had to put that shot away,” DePrenger said. “After [I scored the goal] I was surrounded by my teammates and we all were just so happy, it was a great feeling.”

For Deprenger, the game was even more personal because she knew a lot of the West players from her club soccer team. Despite her many friends across the river, she really enjoys the comradery of her teammates at City.

“They are so encouraging and from day one they’ve always been super supportive,” DePrenger said.

Madelynn Fontana ‘19 voiced similar feelings about her teammates.

“I’ve been playing with Sam [Schroeder] and Naomi [Meurice] for years now and to be played with them and have them be some of my best friends is all you can ask for,” Fontana said.

Multiple players expressed the dynamic of the team being supportive and welcoming, including the members new to the varsity squad this year.

“Everyone on the team is so supportive and you can feel yourself getting better. We all push each other to work harder. We win as a team and lose as a team,” Kate Wolfe ‘21 said.

Along with new players on the team, the head coach, Phillip Hansen, is also new.

“We started at the beginning of the year with many new players, new coach, there was a lot of moving pieces,” Hansen said.

Hansen is no stranger to moving pieces-he spent last year as a coach to the boys JV team. Hansen explains that the transition from coaching the boys to the girls wasn’t a big change.

“The good thing about soccer is although the players may change, the game itself doesn’t change. It’s the same 80 minutes. It’s the same goal at the end of the day,” Hansen explains. “So carrying that mindset, I’ve enjoyed the transition. I’ve enjoyed the challenge. And I look forward to the more challenges that come.”

Many of the players, including Madeline Pugh ‘19, incorporate Hansen’s ideas into their playing strategy.

“I was really excited when Hansen got the job, and I think he’s done a great job of leading the team and taking control and responsibility for his first year as our coach, which is not always an easy task,” Pugh said.

Hansen will also fill the role of athletic director next year after Terry Coleman’s retirement. Though it is not clear what he is going to be doing next year.

“I’m focusing on this year, I’m not looking ahead to the summer to the next year. This year is what I have. I have on my plate right now. That’s what I really want to make sure it’s as successful as it can be.”

Hansen has implemented new tactics into coaching the girls. He video records the soccer matches and goes over them with the girls.

“I really appreciate how dedicated coach Hansen is, and I’m excited to see what he does with the program for the years to come,” Pugh added.

Some players on the team are now playing in new positions. Stella Foster ‘21, who is used to playing left midfield and defender, is now learning to play holding midfielder.

“I’m playing a new position that I have never played before,” Foster said. “I started to understand it a little bit more but I’m still improving. It’s pretty different for me.”

The girls have set a goal of making it to state this season and are on their way to achieving it, with a 5-2 win record so far.

“We want to play the way that we want to play. We’re not a very direct team,” Naomi Meurice ‘19 said. “We want to play our style, and keep that going.”

Meurice recently signed to Pomona College in California.

“It was kind of something that I dreamed about for a long time. So it’s kind of just like a weird feeling like this is actually happening,” Meurice expressed

Meurice found out that she made it into Pomona in the beginning of March and signed on April 17th in the Commons along five other City athletes.

“I had had a spot on the team for a long time, but just kind of waiting to see if I could get in,” Meurice explains. “Finally, I got in, thankfully. It was just a really great feeling, just knowing that I’ll be able to play next year. It’s just a culmination of a lot of my hard work.”

Meurice shared words of optimism for the team and for the rest of the season.

“I think so we’ve got a good team, a lot of people who are working hard, so just kind of like putting together all the pieces we’re so obviously, a very young team, and they’re still figuring things out,” Meurice said. “I think that if we do figure things out, you know, in time, that things may fall in our favor.”

Overall, the City High girls soccer team still has six more games until the possibility of the state game.  

“There’s a certain kind of love you get for people when you see them everyday and struggle with them, win and lose with them, and everything that goes with soccer,” Fontana said.