Athletes Of The Week

By: Kat Szmit

Topics: School Sports , Cape Cod Tech , Sports , Soccer

Cape Tech's Madison Saben-Hambleton (34) looks for an opportunity to snag the ball away from an Upper Cape Tech opponent as teammates Julia Winnell (14), Chelsea Mata (12) and goalkeeper Skylar Hernandez lend support. Kat Szmit Photo

Let's take a moment to talk about Cape Tech girls soccer. It takes a minimum of seven players for regulation game play. How many players has the Cape Tech girls team had on its roster for the majority of its 2019 season? Seven. Since I can see y'all doing the math, let me break it down for you by reviewing one of the team's last games of the season, played Oct. 25 against Upper Cape Tech.

First, huge praise to the Rams for understanding that, while a league game, it was more of an exhibition than true competition, with both teams in it more for the learning experience than the outcome.

But the bigger praise must go to the Lady Crusaders. It has been said that adversity builds champions. Well, while the Cape Tech girls team might not have earned itself a league title or won a single game this season, they did endure. Adversity also builds character and these young women have that and then some.

Seven players on a team means zero subs, so while the decidedly much larger Upper Cape Tech squad repeatedly swapped out its entire on-field crew throughout the game, all seven of Cape Tech's players had no choice but to stay in the game. When one had the wind knocked out of her by a hard ball to the chest, there was no one to fill her spot, so her teammates stepped up and did their best.

And that right there seems to be the motto of this somewhat fledgling team, comprised mainly of underclassmen save for a lone senior leading the way. I'm looking at you, Chelsea Mata. Regardless of how many goals they didn't score, or how many goals were scored against them in each game, the Lady Crusaders laced up their cleats, adjusted their shin guards, and hit the pitch ready to play another day.

When asked what impressed him most about the 2019 squad, Cape Tech head coach Matt Theodore was quick with his answer.

“Their work ethic,” he said. “Even though the last couple games have been tough. They keep working hard.”

Theodore said a punishing end-of-season schedule fueled by rescheduled games that followed rainouts had nearly worn his team out.

“They're pretty beat up,” he said following the Upper Cape Tech game. “They just don't quit.”

No. They don't. They've soldiered on through difficult losses to challenging teams, have weathered dwindling numbers as players dropping out for various reasons as the season progressed, and each game remain determined to unlock the mysteries of a game they seem to love.

The good news is that since the majority of the team are underclassmen, with age and experience come progress. This is a team that genuinely understands the thrill of scoring not to win, but simply to get a goal. This is a team that doesn't take for granted any of the smaller successes that might go unnoticed by more successful squads. This is a team that stands a good chance of turning the adversity they've been facing into a championship.

But let's hope for the sake of the six players I hope to see return next fall that the roster fills out enough to give them a break. After all, they deserve it.