The Lady Warriors have once again claimed victory in the Burke Tournament, making this the seniors’ third consecutive win.
“It is a great accomplishment as a class that I am very proud of,” said senior Anna Baylor.
Seniors Bryn Jacopetti and Emma Wood both said they felt really good about the win because the season had only just begun and it was a good way to start the season.
The current seniors were denied the opportunity to start their season with the Burke Tournament their freshman year because of COVID-19, preventing them from a win that year.
Sophomore Kenna Bennet spoke of how the tournament was memorable, especially the PK, or penalty kick, shootout with Warrior Run.
Baylor said her two saves during that shootout were what led the team to victory, causing the entire team to huddle at the end of the game, which Wood said was her favorite memory.
The tournament win was also a booster for team morale, Jacopetti noted, since they had just lost to Central Columbia two days prior.
Being in a PK shootout is one thing that any soccer team does not want to have to deal with. It is mentally challenging for both the goalie and the shooter.
“I really just try to calm my mind and think about distracting the shooter,” said Baylor. “When I am distracting the shooter I am doing what needs to be done on my end, which gives me the boost of confidence needed to be in the position I am in.”
As for Kenna Bennett, who had to kick in one of the five PKs, she said she tells herself to just breathe and place it (the ball) in the corner.
For the goalkeeper, staying focused is crucial during a PK shootout.
“In that moment I know the only thing I should be worried about is what is in front of me,” said Baylor. “Seeing the ball directly in front of me sharpens my thoughts to what is going on with the shooter and where the ball could be going, which blocks out every other thought and every sound around me.”
Baylor went on to explain the feeling after blocking a PK.
“When I save a PK, it is like a rush of adrenaline and pure excitement,” said Baylor. “My heart races and I get a rush of energy to reset myself and move on to the next shot.”
As for the shooter, scoring a PK feels like a large, heavy load has been lifted from their shoulders, as Kenna Bennett described the feeling as relieving.
After the team won the PK shootout, Kenna Bennett said she was happy for the team.
“That game was nail-biting, never knowing what the outcome would be,” said Baylor. “Once we moved into PKs my position became even more stressful than it already is because I am the only thing preventing another goal against my team. To have saved two out of the four shots taken on me is thrilling but relieving to know that the stress is over and I can just be with my team.”
Unfortunately for the seniors, that was the last Burke Tournament of their high school career.
Jacoppetti said it is, “Kind of sad because I know that was the last start to my last ever high school season,” while Wood said, “It’s definitely sad but I’m glad we won.”
“It is very emotional knowing that was my last,” said Baylor. “The Burke Tournament is always a great season kickoff with lots of team bonding, so not having that experience anymore will be saddening. It is one of my first ‘lasts’ of this year.”
The team’s teamwork and family-like structure is what has helped them be the successful group they are today. They are role models for younger players and for their younger teammates as well.
Without a strong team bond, the team can not truly work together to its full potential. Teammates help push each other through the bad times and celebrate with each other in the good times. As for the Lady Warriors, the team bond is unbreakable.
Jacopetti said that having a strong team bond is great because she knows she has friends all around her and it is a very good support system.
“Our team is really great knowing, no matter what, when you are having a bad day there is someone to lean on, and in turn, on your better days, you can be there for someone else”, said Baylor.
The team’s theme this year is “One Team, One Family,” and Kenna Bennett said she likes the theme and thinks it is good because it keeps them all together as one group.
As a team, the Warrior Soccer players are strong, but with the inseparable bond they have, they are even stronger.
“Our bond makes us stronger as a team,” said Baylor. “Having our connection off the field helps us to connect on the field as one team.”
Kenna Bennett said she thinks the bond is part of what helped the team pull through with the victory this year, and Jacopetti and Wood both agreed.
“Our team supported one another through double overtime and PKs which helped [them] to keep their heads up and push through every physical and emotional struggle to achieve the win,” said Baylor.
There are a lot of good things in store for the team this year.
Jacopetti said she is looking forward to being successful and winning lots of games.
Wood is looking forward to making it as far as possible in districts for her last season, and Kenna Bennett said she is looking forward to making it to districts.
Baylor said she is looking forward to seeing what all the team accomplishes, despite its difficulties having many young players and a new combination of people on the varsity field.
As for team goals, Jacopetti said she wants to get to districts and make it to the first round of states.
Wood wants to win PHAC.
Baylor said she would like to get better at coming out strong at the beginning of every game. “I also would like to take part in the district playoff game,” Baylor said.
Individual mental preparation is crucial to success during games, and every player prepares in a different way.
For example, Baylor said, “When I am warming up to focus on basics and techniques, practicing those translates to a better performance during the game. I also like to keep a clear head and focus on the task at hand the second I step into the stadium.”
Kenna Bennett said, “I focus and get ready to play.”
Meanwhile, Jacopetti said she likes to set goals for herself for what she wants to accomplish during the game, and by doing that she said she mentally prepares herself.
“I drink lots of water to stay hydrated and listen to music to get myself hyped up,” said Wood.
The captains for the Lady Warriors are seniors Jacopetti, Natalie Bennett, and Jayden Phillips.
One of Jacopetti’s main goals this year as a captain is to help support the younger girls to have confidence for when they play varsity.