Women’s soccer continues to thrive
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 17:09
Tradition. One definition states that it is an inherited or customary pattern of thought, action or behavior. It would not be too farfetched, then, to describe the Parkland Women’s Soccer team as building such a tradition with their customary pattern of winning.
Head coach Josh Alford took this program to new heights. The 2011-12 season saw the Lady Cobras win 14 games, earn a top 10 national ranking and compete in a regional final. Those accomplishments earned Alford recognition as Region 24 Coach of the Year.
But, that was last year.
A new year brings new challenges. With success comes attention. Most of it originates from the opposition and has created a green and gold bullseye.
“People are out to get us,” Alford said, “They want to send a statement by doing well against us.”
The ‘us’ that Alford is referring to is a team consisting of 16 freshmen. Being the hunted is just as big an adjustment as it is to the college game itself.
“The biggest thing they have to work on is the change of speed and how physical the game is at the college level,” Alford said about his freshman, “Then it’s just the mental toughness; practicing every day, traveling, school work, and social life. Once you get in the game it narrows down to talent.”
All things considered, this team still began the season without a loss. In the first six games of the season, the Lady Cobras posted a record of 5-0-1.
“Progress has been decent,” Alford said of his team, “We would like to have made a little bit bigger statement against Heartland and maybe against Lincoln.”
They played Heartland to a 1-1 tie and defeated rival Lincoln 3-0.
Alford may have felt statements were not made there, but a statement has definitely been made by the disparity in scoring.
In six games, the Lady Cobras have outscored opponents by a total of 25 goals to two.
“A lot of those games, our defense has been coming up huge, our goalkeepers have been coming up huge, taking pride in not getting scored on, taking pride in a shutout,” Alford said.
The head coach credits all the success to hard work. That combined with the warrior mentality and no excuses whatsoever.
“Shut up and get it done,” Alford reiterated.
This year, so far, has been a total team effort. There is no one person that is the definitive star. Several girls have had to step up and play new positions and big minutes right from the start.
“We need to dominate as a team,” Alford said.
Although it has been a team effort and every game has shaped its own personality, at the center of every game seems to be one person, Keren Sharabi.
“‘Keren is just a great girl to have on the team as far as personality, work ethic, skills, and what she brings to the team,” Alford said.
“She definitely moves the ball around the middle, a savvy creative player. She dictates the pace of the game, the speed of the game. Keren’s been wonderful and she also stepped up as captain this year so she’s been great.”
Sharabi and her teammates have been pretty dominant so far. Then again, so was last year’s team.
The head coach addressed the prospective outlook of his team.
“The ceiling for this team is a national championship, legitimately,” Alford said.
“We do have one of the toughest regions in the nation, so if you get out of region 24 in women’s soccer usually you end up top five in the nation. We feel pretty confident about how we did last year and starting to build up for this year. As far as the sky being the limit, national title is where we’re looking to be at, if not nationals, for sure.”
Judging by the success of last season, and the quick start to this season, whispers of Parkland as powerhouse may begin to surface.
“I hope it’s that way for years to come,” Alford said, “I hope we can keep up every year where it’s spoken about in the junior college ranks. It’s like, ‘You went to Parkland, that’s a good program. They establish a good soccer culture and environment for players to succeed and move on’,”
It extends beyond soccer as well.
“If Parkland becomes a soccer powerhouse on the women’s side of things we would be thrilled as long as girls are graduating, moving on and being successful in life.”
A powerhouse is built over the course of time with gradual progression. One year does not qualify as so. Alford understands that, and with that knowledge posed a simple question for this year’s squad.
“How do they want to set their legacy? Do they want to go to nationals and be the first women’s soccer team to go to nationals or do they want to be 15-0 and not go to nationals?”
Alford refuses to live in the shadow of any previous team, whether it is from last year or last decade. Past performance doesn’t hinder or alter his style or comfort level.
“Do we have to win 14 in a row? No. Do we have to go undefeated? No. But at the end of the year we have to set ourselves up to go further to reach some of our goals. I don’t feel the added pressure; the program is starting to speak for itself,” said Alford.
As the program speaks, it silently builds that tradition of winning.
When asked how this team could eventually reach the mountain top, Alford replied with a traditional answer.
“We’re taking it one day at a time.”