HARWICH – When the Cape Tech girls soccer team fell 5-0 to Sturgis East on Monday afternoon, some might have chalked it up to just another loss for the Crusaders. Not head coach Matthew Theodore. For him, it was a sign of improvement.
Theodore, in his first season with the Crusaders, said that in the past the teams lost by scores of 10-0 or more. This season, in spite of a decidedly younger team, many of whom are playing competitively for the first time, the losses are narrower and the scoring chances increasing.
That could be seen in the team's Sept. 30 game. During a challenging first half, the Storm built up a 4-0 lead as the home team struggled. But after a halftime pep talk from Theodore, the Crusaders returned to the field with renewed determination, holding their opponents to just one goal in the second half, while working together to maneuver the ball within scoring territory. Although one shot appeared to edge over the line late in the game, officials deemed it a non goal.
But even that didn't diminish the Crusaders' willingness to keep fighting, discussing after the game issues they want to tackle in their next practice.
“I have 12 players and six of them are freshmen,” Theodore said. “Yes, they're losing games, but they're getting better every practice.”
The difficulty comes in a packed schedule. At press time on Tuesday (Oct. 1) the Crusaders were scheduled to be right back at it, this time against Rising Tide, with yet another game slated for Oct. 4 against Old Colony.
“It's hard to practice when you've got back-to-back games,” Theodore said.
Even with a busy schedule, the girls comprising the 2019 team have been willing to learn and it shows in their progress, Theodore said. Although they haven't posted a win this season, they've scored goals and are losing by a lot less than in the past. For example, they only lost to Norfolk Aggie 4-1, and Upper Cape 3-0.
“I never focus on the winning,” said Theodore, who also coaches youth soccer in Mashpee. “I always just focus on trying to get better.”
What he appreciates most about his team is their tenacity.
“They work hard,” he said. “They don't quit. There were 13 of them today, and one sub. [Sturgis East] had 20-plus girls on the other side, and [Cape Tech] just kept playing hard to the end.”
Indeed they did, with Taylah Gurley putting forth a stellar defensive effort, while Fran Nunes-Chaves and Raquel Javarezzi were tireless offensively. Sami Fuga and Skylar Hernandez split time in goal for the Crusaders, which allowed both time to play up front.
“I want to keep developing players and I want players that don't quit.” Theodore said. “I just expect them to do their best. I can always see the positive, that they're getting better. If they can keep getting better and we keep building, we'll be OK.”
After their Oct. 4 game against Old Colony (4 p.m.) the Crusaders hit the road to face Sturgis West (Oct. 7) and Bristol Aggie (Oct. 9) before returning home to host Upper Cape Tech on Oct. 11.