Faced with competing in a new conference and losing several standout players from last season, this year’s Arcadia High School Girls Varsity Soccer team is showing that remaining competitive is all about harnessing existing talents and adapting to the needs of the team.
For the past two years, the team was able to make it into the final four group of teams that compete for the state championship, but with losing eight players to sickness, injuries, and graduation, expectations were tempered.
Even though Arcadia moved up from Conference 5A to Conference 4A this year, the team is playing well, ranking fourth with a 5-2-2 record as of mid-January. If there’s any way to describe that in one word, it would be “resilience,” according to Coach Adam Zweiback.
“A lot of girls have risen to the challenge,” said Zweiback, who has been coaching at Arcadia for seven years. “You can’t just sit on the sidelines and watch your star players win the game – you have to help win the game yourself. And that’s how we have had great results.”
The majority of the team this season is first-time players, using their skills from other sports such as track and volleyball to compete. Others are experienced soccer players but are trying new positions.
“A strength of our team is the diversity of talent; everyone contributes something to the team. I believe we need to work on our cohesiveness, but we have talented girls with many different styles of play,” said Ava Camberlango, who plays midfield.
Coach Zweiback hopes the girls will recall how they all came together from different athletic backgrounds and skill sets to form a soccer team and compete at a high level.
“We typically have a very successful team of tremendous students and a nice mixture of club and non-club members,” said Zweiback. “Whether they go to law school or med school or become teachers, to know that playing soccer was a big part to their success is really exciting.”
While all 18 girls on this team bring power and skill to the game, some standout players this season include Mackey Massingale and junior defender Kayla Walshire, who scored three goals from powerful throw-ins. Junior Grace Pierce is playing defense for the first time in her career. Senior co-captain Ainsley McMahon is the leading goal scorer and senior co-captain Shelby Grady scored the winning goal during a game against Desert Mountain.
Zweiback said there is always room for improvements in skill, athleticism, and soccer IQ. By continuing to work on these areas, not only will they be more efficient, but they will also become more intelligent players.
“We want each girl to be better at whatever we think she has on the field and we are definitely building for the future,” Zweiback said. “We’ve got a real culture of success here and we really want to keep that going.”
The girls have been learning to manage their time, which indirectly allows them to prepare for college. Most girls are up for this challenge and want to continue soccer in college, with a host of players from the varsity team receiving scholarships every year.
“For those girls who really want to play at the next level and get scholarships to do it, it’s been really satisfying to help them make their dreams come true,” Zweiback said.
Although the main goal for the varsity team this year is to make the playoffs and possibly have a run at the semifinals, Zweiback thinks the one thing the girls should take away is the memories that they have made during games and off the field with their teammates.
“Whether it was knowing that you had a big sister on the team to greet in the school hallways or the conversations you had on the bus ride to a game in Flagstaff, hopefully soccer gave the team a joyful experience when looking back at their time in high school,” Zweiback said.
The soccer season started in November and concludes in February.
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