From the very first time they stepped onto the pitch this season, the girls of Atascadero’s soccer team knew what their goal was — to win it all. Coached by Miguel Figueroa, the girls have begun their ascent up the rankings and this week have finally cracked the top ten in Division 3 of the CIF Southern Section.
They currently hold an 8-2-1 record on the season and just started league play last week. Their defense has already recorded an incredible seven shutouts in regulation this season and offensively they have scored three or more goals in four games and have only been held scoreless once. Before league play started last week the Hounds had only given up a total of four goals (in regulation) on the entire season.
On Monday afternoon the CIFSS polls were released with Atascadero currently sitting in the No.10 spot. According to MaxPreps.com, the girls are also ranked as the 63rd team in the state of California.
“As Atascadero’s high school program, we are looking forward to
Many of the girls on the team this year have played together on club teams for years throughout the entire state. Six of the girls on the team played for the SLO Storm G’00 team that went undefeated in their league and, according to gotsoccer.com, ranked 18th in Southern California.
The girls identify as a team, even with four senior captains: Serena Ramirez, Hina Nogi, Lexi Setting and Casey Dempsy. They declined individual interviews and instead prefer to speak as a team.
When asked if they have met their expectations in the early part of the season, Ramirez stepped forward, “I think we are above our expectations because we started out a little rough,” she said. “But I think we really came together as a team and in the tournament, we did very well against some tough teams and we really came together.”
The Hounds biggest test in the regular season will come in the form of the San Luis Obispo Tigers. Many of the girls that make up the rest of the SLO Storm club team now play for San Luis Obispo High School. The Tigers are currently 8-1 this season and beat the Hounds in overtime last week 3-2 in a thriller.
The Tigers lone loss came against Paso Robles, who the Greyhounds play today at 6 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium. Atascadero then plays the Tigers again in SLO next Tuesday the 23rd in San Luis Obispo. The girls control their own destiny, if they win out they will be league champions and be one step closer to their goal.
When asked what the key to their stellar defense has been this season, Nogi stepped forward.
“I think our defense has been so great because we are all really good but we all have roles and we all know what to do,” she replied. “So I think that contributes a lot to why we haven't let many goals in. I think us being so individually skilled as well, that comes together and really puts up a wall in front of our goal.”
While the team is led by their four senior captains, the other members have tremendous depth as well. There are 24 girls on the roster and all have seen playing time in multiple games this season. Coach Figueroa has done an excellent job building the program for not just this season, but for the years after. There are four freshmen, five sophomores, and five juniors to go along with ten seniors on this years varsity team.
While the girls would not interview individually, they did answers questions as such, except for the last one. When asked if their goal was still to win CIF, the team answered in unison and without hesitation.