With losing streak behind them, Valley girls in position to have best season ever
When they recalled last year's momentous win earlier this week, several members of Valley's girls soccer team first described the extreme elation that followed. Screaming, hugging — not for a championship but for a regular-season, nonsection game.
Under the circumstances, those reactions made sense. But the Vikings no longer celebrate that way.
They now expect a degree of success.
A new era is under way at Valley. At 3-3 overall and 1-3 in Section 2-AA, the team is off to the best start in its brief history, which dates back to 2002. Four wins will match Valley's all-time high for a season. But the Vikings, none of whom are seniors, believe they can break far more ground than that this fall.
“One of the things the Valley program really never had was girls who played soccer outside of school,” fourth-year coach John Macura said. “But now we're seeing that age and that group of girls who played with organizations such as Tri-City.
“They all realize that we're a young team. Just because we do have some skill and some talent, we're not going to be able to change things over night. It's going to take time.”
Even knowing that, he added, “I never would've imagined us being 3-3 through six games.”
On Sept. 14, 2012, Valley ended a 96-game losing streak by beating St. Joseph, 3-1, on the road. The Vikings finished the year 3-15 overall.
“We were the laughingstock of the athletic department for the longest time,” junior forward Dawn Dilliott said. “But as soon as we beat the streak, we finally had some hope. People were high-fiving us in the hallway and asking us when the games are.”
With the 96-game slide out of the way, the Vikings addressed the next item on their to-do list, and last week, they snapped a 75-game section losing streak by edging Indiana, 2-1, in overtime. Freshman center midfielder Samantha Chambers fired a shot in from 20-plus yards out for the game-winner against the Little Indians (3-5, 0-4).
“Let's not try to get too cocky, but let's focus on getting more than just one section win, like two or three,” Chambers said of Valley's attitude and goals going forward. “Then maybe later in the future, go for the finals and a championship, or maybe just beat (perennial WPIAL powerhouse and section foe) Mars.”
Starting goalkeeper Kaitlin Capo is another freshman with her head in the right place and a healthy soccer history.
“The losing streak is just behind us now,” Capo said. “It's nothing to worry about anymore. … It's still there motivating us because we don't want this anymore. But it's in the past.”
Junior forward Neala Shawfield heard about the current freshmen and other upcoming players from her younger brother. She marveled at some of the newcomers — Shawfield said Chambers' nickname is “Superwoman” because “she works magic with the ball.”
Like the other girls, she began to imagine how high Valley can climb by the time she graduates.
“We decided that we can take this positive energy and do something with it,” Shawfield said. “We can keep working hard. This is a building block, we can work with this.”