HARWICH ─ In sports it is said that attitude is everything. The Cape Tech girls varsity soccer team made that clear on Monday when they hosted rival Upper Cape Tech on their home field, falling 6-0. But don't be fooled by the score since this, according to head coach Patrick O'Neill and senior captain Cat Ready, was their most well-played game of the season so far.
“This is the best game they've played all year,” said O'Neill. “They get better every game. Every game there's improvement. I couldn't ask for anything more.”
In a solid opening half the Crusaders held the Rams to just one goal thanks to solid defensive play from Delanie Manner, Taylah Gurley, and Jen Hollis, while Lillian McLeod was the proverbial force to be reckoned with.
A tough lag in the second half allowed UCT to find the net a second time and wear down Cape Tech's defense, momentarily leading to the lopsided score, but the Crusaders found their flow quickly and continued to make it a ballgame.
“A part of being a part of our program is that we are a tough team,” said Ready. “We don't have a lot of athletes in our school, so we kind of have to go with what we have. All I'm asking from the girls is that they work hard and play 80 minutes of full-strength soccer. That's all I want from them. This was one of our better games.”
Neill agreed and noted that while many programs boast both a varsity and a junior varsity squad, Cape Tech has only a varsity team that is comprised of a number of players either brand new to the sport or who haven't set foot on the soccer pitch since middle school. He credits their consistent improvements to good leadership and constant efforts.
“When you have kids that are going to play through all the little things it makes everything else a little bit easier,” he said.
Also adding to the complexity of the team is that each player other than goalie Ready, who had several stellar saves in net against the Rams, must play multiple positions.
“We don't have players that play positions because they have to play every position except goal,” O'Neill said. “Generally your fullbacks are your fullbacks, your strikers are your strikers, and your midfielders are your best athletes. With our crew they just run until they can't and we roll it out and go again.”
O'Neill said that can mean continuity issues, but he praised his team for always striving to overcome that.
“The results will come with time,” he said.
Senior McLeod said her team's performance against UCT motivated her to step up her level of play, even after suffering a minor injury.
“I just saw how great we played together,” she said. “They've been giving 100 percent so I'm giving my 100 percent. We've been playing amazing. Just because we didn't win the game, we won as a team because we just played so well.”
O'Neill feels that greater success is in the team's future.
“It will all work out for us,” he said. “The soccer gods will figure it out and I expect nothing but better efforts for the next game on.”
Ready is quick to remind teammates and fans that for the Crusaders it's about more than the score.
“If we win or lose, we're still a team,” she said. “And we still work hard.”
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