By Anthony Cacchione and Bob Wason
We’re not in Kansas anymore, but neither are sophomores Alex Fontana and Paige Sherling. This past July the girls went to Kansas for the National Finals of soccer for the U15 division as part of the club team Syracuse Empire Revolution.
But nationals was the end of a very long journey that brought them from Syracuse all the way to Overland, Kansas. First, they had to win their local NY Junior Soccer Association league before advancing to the state tournament. In the state tournament, the girls helped their team to victory against the club team from Brentwood, NY and advanced to the Regional Tournament, consisting of some of the best U15 girls soccer teams in the region. They played and beat Nordic soccer club from Vermont and also beat Nashua soccer club from New Hampshire to advance to nationals.
They won the regional championship game in a hard fight against the state champions of Virginia. After beating Virginia 2-1, the girls realized what they had just accomplished. “It was so rewarding to win that game. It felt like all of the hard work we had put in this season had finally paid off,” said Sherling.
They arrived in Overland and played their first game on July 21. The team ended up losing all three round robin games against teams from Ohio, California, and Florida and were eliminated. Although they lost, Fontana said “it was a great bonding experience for the team and it was awesome to make it that far.”
Sherling said her goal for next season was “to make it to nationals again and hopefully win a few games there.” Fontana also said she hopes “to do as good as last year or maybe even better.”
So, how has this experience helped the J-DHS girls varsity soccer team? Coach Hayley Nies thinks they have developed because of playing so much soccer together over the summer. “They make plays for each other, know each other’s strengths, and are always looking for each other this season,” said Coach Nies. Teammate Jessica Wipper, junior midfielder, said it was “great that they were able to take their soccer abilities to a higher level over the summer, and it has led to them being stronger and better individual soccer players.” Rachel Redmore, a junior defender, said “ they are much faster and also have became a lot stronger.” Forward Amber Hyatt, junior, said that “they have matured and became much smarter after nationals.”
You can catch Fontana, Sherling, and the rest of the team in the state playoffs, starting Nov. 5.