From behind the trees, the sun rested upon the North Haledon Recycling Center Field as the family and friends of the players made their way onto the silver bleachers. The girls varsity soccer team gathered together in a huddle of blue jerseys and pink pre-wrap, their heads bowed low in prayer. It was 4 o’clock on September 8th when the first pair of cleats kicked the soccer ball to start off the much anticipated first game of the season which resulted in a 5-2 win against Wood-Ridge.
Before anyone saw it coming, the first goal was scored, Kirsten Braunius, the talented freshman who scored a hat-trick (3 goals) during the game, said, “When Sam [Garcia] crossed it and I scored, it was exactly what we went over in practice. It’s really cool when we get the ball up from defense and Sam is just running up from the side beating out their defender and is able to make a beautiful cross right in front of the goal and I’m able to score a goal.”
Notable players included Brooke Talsma, who facilitated the plays and scored two of the goals, Sam Garcia, who bested the defenders and was able to move the ball along the sides, and Kendra Heerema, who continuously played the balls over the top for the midfielders and forwards to run into.
Having a spectator’s point of view, Jake Faase said, “[The girls were] able to move the ball really well, they were able to move the ball to the wings and the wings were able to send it up really nice for strikers and the strikers were coming on with the crosses; there was a lot of breakaways and one and one chances with the goalie.”
Perhaps one of the many reasons for the 5-2 win was the chemistry which has been strong this year. The girls soccer team spent a lot of time together during preseason doing various activities such as attending a Cyclebar class and having a sleepover at the high school. The seniors wanted the team to get along well first and foremost because a toxic atmosphere on a sports team hinders everyone from performing at their best.
“One of the biggest highlights of our team this season is the chemistry that we have and just being able to encourage each other and being able to lovingly pointing out ways we can get better at halftime and so we really haven’t gotten down on each other yet and we’ve always fought for each other and fought for the Lord which I’m super proud of our team about,” says Coach Seth Stadtlander. “I think a lot of that comes from our preseason training and fun days and that has allowed us to play more as a team than I have seen in the past.”