The first two weeks on the job, Heights girls soccer coach Brianna Falvey had to figure out how to take a team in transition and keep its confidence going through a brutal stretch in the schedule.
After taking its lumps against Kapaun Mount Carmel, Derby, Bishop Carroll, and Northwest, teams with a combined record of 27-10, Heights has steadied itself with back-to-back wins over Southeast and South.
Heights (2-5) has a rematch with Kapaun on Thursday, this time counting for league play.
“It was kind of hard to work out the kinks in the beginning of the season when you’re playing tough teams like that,” Falvey said. “But we did a lot of good things in those games. Things that we could build on. So we just had to work with the girls and make sure they stayed confident.”
Most of that was positive reinforcement from the coaching staff. Losing by a combined margin of 18-1 to begin the season was not fun for anyone involved, but Falvey and her staff picked out the positive moments and made sure her players remembered those.
So it didn’t feel like a team that had lost its first five games when Heights took the field against Southeast, and the team responded accordingly with a 4-0 victory. The good play continued Monday in a 2-1 win over South.
“We’re starting to do a lot of really good things, like get the ball out wide and mixing some players up in different formations,” Falvey said. “We’re really focusing on the positive things and starting to build off of that.”
More than half of the roster is playing at the varsity level for the first time, but Heights has a constant up top in senior forward Colleen Howland.
The last three seasons Howland has teamed with Jada Scott to form the highest-scoring duo in the City League. But with Scott graduated, Howland has had to adjust to her new role and responsibilities with her new partner in sophomore Zion Deworff.
“The girls really look up to Colleen, but we’ve also talked about how we can’t just rely on her,” Falvey said. “She might be our fastest player and one of the best scorers in the league, but it’s unfair to put all of that responsibility on her. Others are starting to step up and things have been going really well lately.”
Goddard gaining experience — It didn’t take long for Goddard coach Ryan Rooney to notice a trend with his team, which starts nine freshmen and sophomores.
When the Lions defend on the end by their bench, they have always been solid. But when the field flips, problems have originated.
“The Derby game (a 6-0 loss) is a shining example of that,” Rooney said. “In the first half, it’s 0-0 and we’re defending really well because we’re in front our bench and we can kind of direct them where to go. Then the second half, the defense is on the other end and it’s 6-0.”
Rooney said he has a record number of club players in his program, but even then it has been a transition. While they are used to having success against 14- and 15-year-olds, Rooney said, Goddard’s players are finding that those things aren’t as successful against high school seniors.
It’s made for an up-and-down season, one that has Goddard sitting with a 3-5-1 record. But results like Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Eisenhower, the defending league champion, inspire Rooney for what is coming.
Sophomore Mikayla Hutchison has led the way with 10 goals through nine games Goddard will host Arkansas City on Thursday.
“We haven’t put together a total game yet,” Rooney said. “We’ll have stretches where we do everything right, but then we have a brain fart in the back or we don’t support our strikers because we’re playing so much defense. We’re learning how to think on the fly a lot more, so right now we’re still adjusting to that.”