KFHS girls learn to play as a team

Published 6:32 pm Saturday, April 28, 2012

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

Though its record may not reflect it, the King’s Fork varsity girls’ soccer team has achieved some key ingredients of success this season.

The Lady Bulldogs are 3-6, but rather than measuring the worth of the season by the number in the win column, Coach Sarah Hutzler is measuring it by the degree of teamwork.

Senior King’s Fork defender Kristi Hashigami warms up against the team’s keeper before a game against Grassfield.

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“That’s the biggest thing that King’s Fork soccer has been lacking in the past couple of years,” she said, “is just the team chemistry and getting everybody to be on the same page and overcoming a lot of the differences on the team to work as one unit.”

Hutzler, who is a first-year varsity coach after two years coaching JV, had no idea what to expect this year, but she expressed gratitude for the consistency of the senior class. The team features nine seniors this year.

“We’re just hoping to hopefully get into the process of having a solid squad coming out each year and being able to build from the JV level and not have to worry about losing those key people,” Hutzler said.

Among the notable games this year, Hutzler highlighted a 2-0 loss to Oscar Smith. Though the scoreboard did not reflect a positive outcome, Hutzler had ample reason to be pleased.

“We played well as a team, and that’s the main thing,” she said. “Our success (was) being able to go on the field and play as a team and not as individuals.”

The players that have made the teamwork possible have fittingly been the senior team captains: Victoria Atkins, Kristi Hashigami, Nicolette Santora and Jasmine Sherwood.

Among those four, Hutzler particularly spotlighted Hashigami.

“She’s my center (defensive) back, and she controls the game, she controls the team, she controls the field,” Hutzler said. “She’s stepped (up) a lot this year and taken a leadership role.”

Hutzler also made special note of the remarkable play by freshman Maiah Wright.

“She came out this year and never played soccer before in her life, but (is) just, bottom line, (a) hard worker,” Hutzler said. “So, I kept her on varsity and she earned herself a starting position probably about three or four games into the season and she’s been starting every game, because she’s a hard worker. The skill isn’t always there, but she never gives up.”

When describing the areas for improvement, Hutzler spoke about challenges that all of the Suffolk schools face.

“Our biggest threat in a game when we go in is ourselves, because we get so worked up and our anticipation of what’s going to happen is so high because of the level of players that we play in the district,” she said.

Rivals like Grassfield, Great Bridge and Hickory are fed by local travel programs in the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area that are full of experienced players.

“Whereas here,” Hutzler said, “we have a rec league across the street, and 95 percent of our girls have never played soccer before in their lives.”

Suffolk also offers up a diverse group of students from different backgrounds.

“We draw from so many different aspects of economic (status) and life in general that these girls have got to overcome more than just not having the skill; they’ve got to overcome how to work with each other when they’re not used to,” Hutzler said.

Impressively, neither challenge has proven insurmountable for the Lady Bulldogs.

“We’ve been pretty successful. We’ve had a lot of really good moments in games, a lot of good halves in games,” Hutzler said. “As long as the girls keep a good attitude and sportsmanship and continue to fight, that’s all that (we) as coaches at King’s Fork can ask.”