By Ryan Kaczmarski
The North Olmsted girls varsity soccer team defeated Olmsted Falls, 1-0, for its first victory of the year last Wednesday. Both programs are playing many underclassmen on varsity and are looking to build from within.
“We’re trying to teach them to play soccer the right way, and hopefully on the field, we’ll see some results,” North Olmsted head coach Tom Greene said. “We haven’t seen great results yet, but we’ll be alright.”
The Olmsted Falls program is looking a little more to the future, with a strong junior varsity team ready to be called up with the impending departure of 12 seniors from this year’s varsity roster.
“This freshman class is outstanding,” Olmsted Falls’ first-year head coach Pete DuBois said. “We’re going to be losing a lot of seniors next year, so these (junior varsity) girls are going to be ready to step into key roles for us. These girls have skills, they have heart and they’re coming into their own. As a coach, I can see what they are going to be able to do next year at the varsity level.
“At the varsity level, the seniors have a lot of heart, and they are trying to control this season and make it count.”
DuBois has brought a new philosophy to the Bulldogs, and he and his coaching staff have not seen opposition from within the community and the team.
“Everyone’s been very supportive of what we are trying to do here,” he said. “We came in at the end of last school year with a plan, and the girls responded over the summer with weight training and foot skills work. They really turned it up a notch.
“The school itself has practically said, ‘Whatever you need,’” he added. “So they are working on the home field – trying to get the pitch better – they’re getting new equipment and we’re noticing a difference.”
The intense rivalry between the schools, which is shown in week No. 10 of the football season, has not been a factor in recent years when it comes to girls varsity soccer.
“I think that’s because Olmsted Falls has come a long way (starting its girls soccer program in the mid-’90s),” Greene said. “Until they get established, it’s hard to be a rival.
“The North Olmsted girls program has always been pretty good. It hasn’t been an elite program yet – that is what we are striving to get to – and that is what is missing for a rivalry. We’re both still building, but Olmsted Falls is a growing community and their travel program is blossoming. They have a lot of kids playing club soccer also, which helps feed into the high school program. We’ve kind of leveled off (in numbers) and it’s almost like we don’t have as many girls playing as we used to.”
In Greene’s eyes, the diversification of high school athletes has been a prime culprit of the diminishing numbers of girls club soccer players in North Olmsted.
“For years and years, kids were playing just one sport,” he said. “Now they’re all multi-sport athletes. They run track in the spring, and play softball and basketball, instead of playing soccer year-round.”