By Shailey Klein
The Oak Hall girls varsity soccer team is looking ahead to finish on a dominant note, heading into the final stretch of the season.With a new head coach in Upper School teacher, Charles Wharton, the team has faced challenges with resilience. Captains, junior Lindsay Jenkins, junior Gabby Aulisio, and sophomore Audrey Clark, lead the team onto the field each game.
Wharton’s passion and excitement for the sport brings high energy to the sideline and drives the team to succeed. He stated that the team’s greatest improvement has been how the players have adapted to “new roles and positions with success”. Positioning and ball control are the two main elements which Wharton hopes to emphasize in the last few games. “We hope to space the field more and pass more effectively to our teammates so that we can possess the ball and develop our offense more,” Wharton added.
Clark stated that Wharton’s words of advice help her relax before the games, especially with his “tai chi” methods of playing soccer. “When you are playing, you have to go with the flow and encounter obstacles as they come,” Clark elaborated. Clark believes that the “go with the flow” mentality helps the team play better, as long as the players keep the game on the field and not in their own heads.
The large number of girls who came out to join the soccer team this season brought a new dynamic for the captains to manage. The team consists of athletes ranging from sixth graders through seniors, with skill levels ranging from “never touching a soccer ball to high level soccer,” according to Jenkins. The growth from the players the captains have seen has been very noticeable. “It was amazing to see how we grew as a team in skill from the beginning of the season [until] now,” Aulisio mentioned.
The team’s last home game of the season against Gainesville High School is at 6 p.m. on Jan. 21. This game will also celebrate the seniors on the team for Senior Night. The district tournament, hosted at St. Francis Catholic High School is the week of Jan. 27, with the semifinal game on the 28th at 5 p.m., and the district championship game finishing the tournament on the 30th at 7 p.m. There is a high likelihood the team will be the top seed heading into district play, having defeated two of the three other teams in the district during the regular season. The team is motivated to reach the top of the district, claiming its first district championship since 2008.