A huge change in the Girls Soccer COE happened this past spring. The girls soccer program withdrew their participation with the Development Academy League but why? Ms. Cornish, Director of Athletics, states, “Before the whole DA thing happened, we as a school were contemplating whether or not the DA was actually something that we should be apart of. The DA has lots and lots of rules and we were kind of limited with the amount of showcases we could attend and with the number of coaches that would come to the games.”
DA stands for Development Academy. Development is the reason this league was created, to take talented players and have them compete against each other in hopes of achieving the ability to compete at the college level and not having the playing level be such a drastic jump. Entering the DA, the SSM Girls Soccer Program knew it was not going to be an easy transition. “We were given four to five years to really start to make some significant headway as the wins and losses record, goals scored and against and, for whatever reason the DA really gave us two years, so that was kind of a surprise to all of us, we were all taken aback by that” explains Ms. Cornish.
Coming back to campus this fall, it’s obvious that the number of girls soccer players attending the school dropped significantly. Coach Croft said, “The summer was a challenging summer to say the least in terms of just trying to continue to keep players and recruit players to come in.” The numbers were so low that there is now only one U19 team and some U16 players that practice in hope of getting a call up to the U19s.
This year the U19 girls soccer team will be playing in the National League at the premier two level. Coach Vargas notes it’s still a high, competitive level. The National League is broken down into multiple different levels. In the fall, the team will play regionally, and in the spring with teams also in our region, but also in addition to play teams who chose to play high school soccer in the fall. The girls program had previously played in the National League before switching to the DA.
According to Croft, Girls Soccer Head Coach and Interim Director, this league will provide the team with different opportunities than the DA did. One of the biggest aspects of the new league that will be good for the team is that it will help increase the confidence individually, and help increase the confidence in the program. Coach Croft says with confidence, “In the league that we are in now the talent that we have we are better than most of the teams.”
The ultimate goal of the girls soccer program is to get the players into college and ready for the next level. Coach Vargas says, “The (National) league is nice and it gets us games and competition. However, what we’re looking forward to is the showcases and we’ve gotten into some really high profile showcases this year and that’s what I’m excited for because that will ultimately help the players communicate with coaches and get that exposure that they are really looking for. That is the overall goal of the program is to get the journey to continue after Shattuck- St. Mary’s.
With a great start to the year both coaches have lots of confidence going into the season this fall. The coaches also note that the energy coming back to campus has been great considering the difficult change. Coach Vargas mentions, “The bond happening with the girls has been a lot more positive than I’ve seen in previous years here, so I’m really excited for that.”