ENGLEWOOD — With the girls soccer season entering the final quarter of the 2015-16 campaign, it is vital teams play their best soccer coming down the stretch, as is the case in any sport.
And the CHSAANOW.com Class 3A No. 1-ranked Kent Denver Sun Devils answered such challenge again this week, as they put on a dominant performance versus Manual High School in a Metro League game, beating the Thunderbolts 10-0.
Even though Kent Denver played about as close to perfect a soccer match as humanly possible, coach Krista Sahrbeck believes her team can still find a way to get better.
“The idea is to be able to get everyone in to experience game situations, while trying to stick to our game-plan of ball movement, trying to play balls into space, anticipation and keeping our shape on defense,” Sahrbeck said. “These games allow us to go deep in our bench and so everybody can play and get that game experience knowing that you can never predict what might happen moving forward against good teams, so it’s good for us to get that experience.”
Sarhbeck’s players indeed made the most of their experience on the field as more than five players scored Friday, including sophomore Portia Tieze who capitalized on the opportunity to gain some experience Friday.
Being a younger player on the squad that prior to tonight played in only five games with one goal on the year, this was crucial not only for her growth as a player, but for her team’s growth as they prep for postseason play.
“With this game it’s important to learn how to play with a team, regardless of the situation, and that’s what we’ve been working on in every practice, every situation, and game including this one,” Tieze said. “No matter who is in the field or on the bench, we have to all play as a team because it’s not just the skillset, but the mentality of the whole.”
Now with only three more games remaining in the regular season for the Sun Devils, Sarhbeck isn’t just hopeful, but more so confident this is the year her team can get over the hump as they’ve been bounced in the semifinals the past three seasons.
“That’s a great question, more voodoo dolls, lucky rabbit’s feet, four-leaf clovers,” Sarhbeck joked. “But really for us, in a very fortunate way, I’d like to think that we’re very healthy, which last year hurt us big-time as we lost three girls to season-ending knee injuries.
"For us too, we are fortunate that our program is pretty deep and we don’t necessarily go down in skill when doing so that will help us, but again, it’s not always about the skill. The mental toughness, the heart, that’s stuff we work on as much as our skill."
At the end of the day for Kent Denver, it’s about continuing the solid play and avoiding any drop in production as Sahrbeck and her team believe they have what it takes to handle business this postseason.
“We are trying to have positive momentum going into the end of the season,” Sahrbeck reiterated. We are just hoping to keep that momentum going for as long as we can with the idea of trying to play our best soccer in the postseason.”