If you visit Chandler Preparatory Academy’s soccer field today, you will find that the lady Spartans left everything that they have on that field. Heart, passion, precision, courage – these are the words that come to mind when reflecting on what the girls did today.
As the start of the game neared, the girls stretched with anticipation, anticipation that the match would be intense and hard fought, but they remained calm, focusing on the challenge ahead. There was one problem, however, the Spartans had no goalie. A call for someone to play the position went unanswered, until a faint voice mentioned that Ellie Folkstead played goalie last year. Ellie immediately hid behind another player. Ellie, with her earrings taped, looked up with concern and great reservation about playing the position, certainly with knowledge that the team the Spartans were facing would be the best they have played yet. Ellie reluctantly put on her goalie gloves and she quietly stepped into the goal during warmups. She remained quiet as the Spartans unleashed shot after shot. But with each new shot you could see confidence growing from within. Ellie stood taller and taller, and by the end of the game Ellie’s head deservingly was in the clouds. Her small frame grew to that of a giant, as her confidence let her become a fierce player, a player that let this Spartan team walk-off with a tie. Ellie, in the waning minutes of the game was surrounded by three Titan players eager to score the winning goal. Ellie crashed towards the ball, throwing her body down and as the Titan players kick wildly at the ball – Ellie HELD FIRM! When Ellie snagged the ball form the air she unleashed perfect drop-kicks every, single, time. Ellie was this games MVP. Today, she embodied what it means to be a Spartan, and her fearlessness will be a source of inspiration for the remainder of the season.
At the other end of the field was Kate Hauptman, a player that lets her performance do all the talking. Her footwork was gorgeous, her attacks were fierce, and aggression was inspiring – different game but the same Kate Hauptman. It was tied 0-0 as the 1st half was coming to a close. Kate received a pass from midfield and made a perfect turn coupled with a precise burst towards goal and as the defense gave chase her speed and control kept enough edge so she could score the game’s first goal. It was nearly 30 minutes later that Kate scored her second goal from a miraculous angle. She sliced into the 18, and as the goalie closed nearly all scoring windows, Kate scorched the ball to the back of the net.
It was Arden Ricotta’s best game, period. Arden’s turns were surgical. Arden’s footwork and control were next to perfect. Arden’s work through the midfield set up numerous scoring opportunities, and ended with a shot delivered by Kate Hauptman that collided with the crossbar with just minutes left in the game. If anyone needs an example of how to play the game, Arden Ricotta’s performance today is a good one! There was just something about her game today that made her look different.
Helping to lockdown the midfield was Reagan Broderick. When Reagan steps onto the field expect brilliance. Reagan’s change of direction and speed helped create critical space within the field to help deliver key balls up to the forwards. She calmed the pace of play with key possessions that enabled her to thread stunning passes through the defense. One thing Reagan never forgets to bring to each game is her foot. Reagan delivered perfect corner kicks as well as key strikes on goal.
Holding the defense was once gain Madison Koetz. Madison has earned her stripes this season, and this team would not be where it is today without her play. Sadly, however, this was Madison’s last game in defense, because she has found a new home. Forward. Madison is a soccer player – plain and simple. Regardless of the position she plays she commands the ball. As the Titan defense began to crowd the backfield to hold on to their 2-1 lead, Madison’s move to the forward position changed the game. Once up front, that ball never left the half, and it was minutes after the switch that Kate scored the tying goal. Madison is the complete package. Intelligence, intensity, aggression, passion, and confidence, but beyond those traits, she is also a wonderful person.
Who has inherited the defense you may ask – Lizzie Eiler of course. Lizzie is the heart and soul of this team. Lizzie shows up to every game prepared to leave. Her long, fierce stride carries her all over the field to stop nearly every offensive threat. In today’s match, it was Lizzie that was involved in nearly every defensive stop. Lizzie’s natural speed, awareness, and skill makes her a tremendous defensive force in the backfield.
Supporting Lizzie on the wings were Ana-Cecy Frias and Brooke Nicoll. It was late in the second half as the Titans pushed the ball forward looking for the winning goal. Brooke stepped up and one the challenge, but she was not done. Brooke raced towards the wing with the ball, and as a Titan played closed in, Brooke used her body to shield the ball and deliver a perfectly struck pass up to Madison. That’s a sixth grade student commanding the field filled with 7th and 8th grade students – that’s Brooke’s game! Ana-Cecy played her best game of the season. She won nearly every tackle, stopped nearly Titan player daring to push up her side. Ana-Cecy was a pivotal reason why the Spartans walked off today with the tie.
Whitney Reinhardt is poetry in motion. There are few players in this game that plays as beautiful as Whitney. Whitney’s game is like an ocean wave approaching the shoreline. As it approaches, it calmly rises with continuous purpose. The wave is undeterred by its surroundings as it pushes towards the shore, and once it reaches its destination it crashes down with spectacular force and beauty. Whitney calmly carves through the defense and with each elegant move her pace seems to remain steady. As the defense swarms, her play remains calm as she relentlessly pushes forward. The end result is a forceful crash towards goal with either a perfectly placed pass or shot on goal.
With a different approach, but equally effective, Maya Nagaraj relies on a single move and blazing speed. Starting in right midfield, Maya commanded the position. Maya slowed her game down to make each pass and blistering strike more effective, and it was Maya’s last minute heroics that nearly won the game for the Spartans on a corner kick delivered by Reagan. Maya’s control and possession of the ball was simply spectacular.
Starting as left and right forwards were Grace and Gianna Ajamie. Grace’s play today perfectly can be uniquely summarized as graceful intensity. Grace played brilliantly as she navigated up the right wing with complete control of the ball. Never frazzled, she executes splendid moves and precise passes with ease. Grace setup many scoring opportunities and remained a constant threat throughout the match. Gianna’s play was equally impressive. Gianna is fearless. In a game where nearly every opponent is bigger and taller Gianna remains focused with her execution remaining flawless. Gianna’s offensive play was complemented by wonderful defensive play in the second half. Gianna was critical in maintaining the 2-2 tie, winning every challenge and delivering an equally impressive pass forward to create a seamless transition.
Kaitlyn Dodaro and Sabrina Manero were called into action in the first half and they played wonderfully. Sabrina replaced Maya in midfield and it was the best Sabrina played all year. Early in her play, Sabrina chased down the ball and made a stunningly fast turn. Instead of panicking, Sabrina remained calm as she pushed the ball forward. Sabrina executed a gorgeous thru-ball to a striking Kate Hauptman. Sabrina was amazing. Kaitlyn Dodaro went in as right forward. Kailyn’s play is always beautiful. Her quick move and fierce stride created numerous scoring opportunities late in the 1st half. Kaitlyn confidently commands any position she is assigned and Kaitlyn will be a critical player in the Spartan’s championship run in the playoffs.
Samah Choudhury, Ashley Barchas, Emma Wilson, Lily Rogers, Julia Preston, and Sienna Kindsfater were all suited and ready for play if and when they were needed. A team is only as good as their depth, and each and every day these players show amazing tenacity that only makes this team even stronger. Beyond that, Samah, Ashley, Emma, Lily, Julia, and Sienna demonstrated the love and support each girl has for one another. With every substitution, these girls encouraged the player entering the field and welcomed the player coming off the field with tremendous support and encouragement. Great teams have heart and players like Samah, Ashley, Emma, Lily, Julia, and Sienna were that heart today. It was that little extra heart that ensure this team walked away with the tie.
This was the game of the year – hands down. This was the game that showed us who these girls really are! Today, we don’t need to be reminded that everyone should “fear the Spartans,” today we must be “Proud to be a Spartan!”