The Severna Park High School (SPHS) varsity girls soccer team played a COVID-shortened five-game season in the spring of 2021, and had no playoff opportunities as the postseason was not an option at the time. However, the team is back for a semi-typical high school season this fall and is prepared to play as far into the postseason as possible, aiming for a state championship.
According to head coach Rick Stimpson, the shortened spring season was a great way to prepare the team for the fall.
“With everything that went on last season, the players were just excited to be out there playing,” Stimpson said.
Despite the lack of a postseason, the senior players finished the spring season strong, and the younger players gained valuable game experience. This season, Stimpson noted, “it will be nice to be back to some sort of normal again, and to have the opportunity to build toward the playoffs.”
The team began the fall preseason with a 0-0 tie in a scrimmage against Archbishop Spalding High School in late August.
“They had a great performance,” noted Stimpson.
According to the head coach, the team is shaping up well and he is optimistic about their regular season performance and postseason chances. The team will field four seniors this year, but overall has seven returning starters and a talented sophomore and junior class.
“The talent and skill on the team is deeper than it has been in the past,” Stimpson said.
According to the three-year veteran coach, there is no skill drop-off with the players coming in off the bench. Overall, the team is strong, but Stimpson rostered some difference-making players in both the defensive and attacking thirds, as well as in the midfield.
Hanna Verreault (forward/midfielder), Ava Schultz (defender/midfielder), Sofia Espinoza (midfielder) and Joi Fleming (midfielder) have set up the team for success so far. According to Stimpson, the way they play as a group determines play for the rest of the team. Specifically, they are calm in possession, and they do not lose the ball.
“Hopefully they will come through in big games,” he said, “but really, they just make everyone better.”
Like every season, the team has goals. Currently, they are focused on playing a strong regular season, peaking at playoff time, and competing for the state championship. In Stimpson’s mind, the girls varsity team has the depth, talent and skill to realize those goals.
However, the regular season will not be without its challenges. Stimpson recognizes they will face skilled opponents such as the Broadneck High School squad. Nonetheless, he is confident in his team’s playoff chances and says a playoff run or state championship is not unrealistic with the team they have. It will be a promising season for the SPHS varsity girls soccer team, but the bottom line is they are happy to be back out on the pitch.
“After what they have been through over the past year, they realized that their season can be taken away quickly. They have an appreciation for that and it shows,” Stimpson said.
The team will host an out-of-conference game against Tuscarora High School on September 11. They will open county play at Crofton on September 13.