MANSFIELD – Maybe it’s because they’re confident in their own ability. Or maybe it’s foolish pride. Maybe it’s because they’re just too young and inexperience to really care. Or it could be they just have that strong a mental approach.
Whatever the reason, nothing negative seems to really affect the Midlothian girls soccer team. Nothing brings them down.
They’ve had goals scored on them, fallen behind and looked bad at the start of a game. Every time, the Lady Panthers have bounced back and refused to fall prey to pitfalls. Why? When you’re as close as this team is, you can’t fall down without someone trying to pick you back up.
“We’re just all really close, really good friends and we just pull together when we need to,” junior Eliza Carey said.
Last week was a prime example of the “water off a duck’s back” mentality the team possessed. Against Mansfield Timberview, the Lady Panthers were in control for much of the game before the Lady Wolves put a goal in early in the first half to tie the match. Instead of taking a step back, the team stepped up and used Kaitlin Bush’s shot less than 15 minutes later to reclaim the lead and pick up the win.
In the regular season finale against Mansfield, Midlothian trailed for much of the match before finally stepping up in the final moments. Ashtyn Stephens’ goal with 15 seconds left in the game tied the score and handed the team a draw.
On a team with just seven seniors, two starting, there is a lot of composure.
“We’ve got a younger team this year than we did last year. We had seven starting seniors last year and this year we have two, on a good day when one’s not hurt,” Bush, a junior, said. “It’s just hard because we have so many sophomores and juniors working hard to get those leading roles for next year. We’ve just got to put it together and make it happen.”
For coach Sid Danner, the mental toughness is something he believes the team developed early in the season when they were being tested in non-district play. The team got off to a 2-3-2 start, only scoring multiple goals in one non-district game.
Since then, the Lady Panthers have put up three or more goals eight times while placing third in District 5-5A with a 10-3-1 record.
Danner hopes those lessons will continue to be used as the team makes its playoff debut next week. A preserving attitude will be key to advancing.
“We played some big strong teams and we fought through those. Stuff like this pays off when we get into district when the composure is needed. It’s been earned,” Danner said.
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