Girls Soccer Team Gets a Kick Out Of First Ever Preseason


LiLi Xiong, Staff Writer

As the new school year begins, the girls soccer season kicks off as well. Despite the hot early fall weather, the LASA girls soccer team met at Noack Sports Complex on Oct. 5 to begin their first ever preseason. 

This will be the first year that LASA has a separate soccer team from LBJ due to the University Interscholastic League (UIL) split from LBJ. In the 2021-2022 school year, LASA will move to its own campus, meaning that once-shared athletics and fine arts programs must be split between the two schools. The split was voted on in 2018.

The girls soccer team has had three preseason practices so far. UIL recently changed its rules to allow sports teams to practice at least once a week despite the COVID-19 pandemic. However, safety measures have been put in place to keep the players and coaches safe. Freshman Sheridan Wallace detailed the safety precautions implemented by the team.

“We have to do a screening before we get to practice each time, and we have to wear our masks while we’re playing soccer and running,” Wallace said. “Also, whenever we get water, we have to spread out a lot.”

The team also has to practice social distancing as much as possible, so players try to avoid getting too close to each other off the field. Junior soccer player Caroline Stone said the team has learned to deal with this unfortunate reality.

“I definitely wish I could get together with my teammates and mess around with them, but we’ve been making do with it,” Stone said.

According to head coach Chloe Cardinale, some players find wearing masks while exercising bothersome, but they appreciate that they have the ability to practice during these unprecedented times. All athletic teams are required to wear masks while training.

“The mask wearing is really inconvenient; the girls hate it and they don’t want to wear the mask,” Cardinale said. “It’s Texas, so it’s 90 degrees in October, making us hot and sweaty, but I understand and respect why we’re doing it.”

As COVID-19 cases rise in Austin, it’s not known whether fans will be allowed to come to games or not. However, according to Stone, attendance at games has never been very high, but it is more fun to play when it is.

“At the McCallum game last year, we had twice the turnout, which definitely made my adrenaline spike and made things a lot more stressful but also a lot more fun,” Stone said. “Not having as high of a number is going to make things a little less fun, but at the same time, we didn’t have high turnouts at the other games anyways.”

Since girls soccer plays in the AISD football stadiums, there is a lot of space to spread out and maintain social distance, making it safer for fans. Additionally, soccer being an outdoor sport makes it safer for fans to watch games. Wallace said she supports fan presence at games this season.

“I’d prefer to have fans as long as it’s safe for everyone just because it’s nice to have people cheering you on and watching the game,” Wallace said.

Despite these struggles, Stone is enjoying being able to practice with her team and stay active. 

“All of the girls on the team are super positive and funny and just make practices super fun,” Stone said. “As an individual, I definitely have been leaning away from soccer over the years and going towards other sports. With these girls, they’re making soccer so much more fun. They’re the reason why I still play at school.”

This is also the first year where the girls soccer team gets an athletic period, which means that team members have the ability to practice during school hours. Due to COVID-19, the team can’t properly practice during their class time, but the newly created preseason has been making up for that. 

According to Cardinale, the preseason has allowed the team to improve their endurance and stamina. She said, in the past, the other teams have practices during the off season, which gives them an edge when the season starts in the spring. 

“We play these teams that practice year-round, and we have the skill, but we don’t always have the stamina, so that’s why we’re focusing on conditioning right now,” Cardinale said.

Stone said that though she wishes some practice time could be allocated for technical work, this conditioning training will benefit the team in the long run.

“I don’t really like the conditioning and the fact that we don’t touch the ball a lot,” Stone said. “But it definitely helps us get in better shape as a team so that at the end of the preseason we’re at our prime and we can do very well.”

Soccer preseason has provided team members with time off their screens and the ability to socialize with new people. Players like Wallace are really enjoying the time they get to spend with classmates outside of school. 

“I like getting to know people,” Wallace said. “Since I’m a freshman, I don’t really know anyone, so it’s just fun because everything else is on Zoom.”

The official soccer season starts on Jan. 12, two weeks earlier than usual, due to there being an additional team competing in the division this year. Cardinale said the team will take advantage of this extra time to get more prepared than normal.

“I think after the preseason, the team will be better prepared than in most seasons,” Cardinale said. “One of the main things is developing chemistry, and the fact that we have the time to do that will be very beneficial to us.”