Photo by Jennifer Halley
Allison Wells prepares to kick the ball away from a Royal Scot during the Sept. 6 game.
As of Tuesday, September 11, 2018
SALEM — It was all energy and smiles for the Panthers on Thursday as they clinched their first victory of the season 5-2 against McKay High School.
The game started off slow, and it wasn’t until near the end of the first half when the Panthers nabbed their first goal that the girls began to find confidence in their play.
“It just kind of pumped us up, and the second goal pumped us up even more,” senior Allison Wells said. “We just got more excited and believed in each other even more.”
As the game progressed, the girls began to work together like a machine, their confidence boost obvious as they stole the game from the Royal Scots and took it into their own hands.
Everything just clicked for them.
“We did everything we’ve been practicing at practice,” senior Ana Becerra said.
Becerra nabbed one unassisted goal and had two assists. Jules Martinez nabbed two and Kalli Wakefield added two more.
Keepers Abygayle Mabry had eight saves and Cecilia Espericueta contributed six.
The team had 14 shots on goal total for the game.
Last season, the Panthers won two games out of a 12-game season.
Approaching the 2018 season, head coach Mike Lynch said he saw an amass of talent that was overshadowed by a huge lack of confidence. So he’s been working with them in small ways to help bring that out.
“I told them this season’s going to be baby steps and they’re going to take a big step after a while, and tonight they took a big step,” Lynch said. Tonight, “they believed in themselves. And that’s huge.”
Something else that is different this year is the 20-year experience Lynch brings with him as the head coach, and the almost father-like interaction he has with his players.
After the game, the players thanked Lynch for how he’s been coaching them.
“It’s been a long road on my coaching,” Lynch said. “My high school coach came up to me one time when I was coaching and we had a poor season and I said, ‘coach, what’s wrong?’ And he goes, ‘some of it’s the players, but most of it’s the coach.’ So it made me change my philosophy on coaching.”
Now his is a simple one: “I try to build them up,” he said.
As a result, the team has formed a bond, which revealed itself in Thursday’s victory.
“They pick each other up when they’re down,” Lynch said. “As a team, we build family. And that’s what they are; they’re family.”