By Ray Hamill — In a season that almost never was, the South Fork girls soccer team is making up for its lack of experience in other ways, and no one’s backing down from the challenge.
The Cubs feature a total of just nine varsity seasons experience combined between the 16 players.
A pair of seniors — Sophia Wallace-Boyd and Kylie Messenger — have each played three years at the varsity level, while just three of their teammates have played one season apiece.
But despite that lack of experience, and some lopsided losses, the Cubs are not backing down from anyone, and are definitely showing signs of improvement.
Last week, a well-organized South Fork defense held a potentially potent and vastly experienced St. Bernard’s attack in check for much of the game.
This was a group of young players competing at this level for the first time against some of the top local club players in the county, and for large parts of the game they held their own.
And head coach Ann Constantino is more than pleased with how the team is coming together.
“This group is wonderful,” Constantino said. “They’re upbeat, they come to practice every day willing to learn, and they listen.”
In particular, Constantino will lean on her three captains — Wallace-Boyd, Messenger and junior Harley Bates — to lead the way.
“They’re good leaders,” the coach said of the trio. “They have a unique voice, and a unique style and ability to reach out to the rest of the team.”
All three are comfortable on the ball, with Wallace-Boyd and Messenger the more experienced, and Bates, “a real spark plug for our team,” according to Constantino.
Messenger leads the team with four goals, while Wallace-Boyd has one.
Marian Del Rio, Regina Salomon and Wallace-Boyd each have an assist.
The coach admits that with such a young team, she’s still figuring out the pieces to the puzzle, although several players have stepped up in recent weeks.
“We’re still playing around with positions and formations,” Constantino said. “Every game I see new things.”
In goal, freshman Lyndsee Brewer has been a busy player but has impressed, and is gaining plenty of varsity experience quickly.
“Despite her size I think she’s developed very quickly,” Constantino said.
Juniors Jaylenne Harris and Alahni Christianson have also impressed early in the season, as has Del Rio, a sophomore whom big things are expected out of.
Del Rio has split time in goal with Brewer, but is also an “outstanding field player,” according to her coach.
It was, however, almost the season that never was for the Cubs, who lacked sufficient numbers during the summer.
“It didn’t look like we were going to have a team this year,” Constantino said. “But the players started recruiting their friends … and it turned out to be great chemistry.”
The Cubs have yet to win a game in four attempts, but the coach and her players are not backing down from the challenge.
“We’re just real excited with the rate of our improvement,” Constantino said. “And we’re just looking to continue each game.”
The Cubs play at Del Norte on Wednesday and at Fortuna on Saturday.