The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

The Student News Site of University Prep

The Puma Press

A Historic Season

Girls varsity soccer makes state tournament; first time since 2015
Photo: Kian Baghai
Grey Donsbach kicks the ball past a Montesano defender in a playoff game on Nov. 11. UPrep would go on to lose 2-0.

After a long regular season full of ups and downs, late practices and early games, UPrep’s girls varsity soccer team made it to the state quarterfinals, their furthest finish since 2015.

“I’m so proud of how far my team has come,” Senior and captain Eliza Barton said. Barton has played with the team for her whole high school career. 

“Seeing the difference between the team I was on freshman year and the team I am on now makes me so proud of the program as a whole,” Barton said.

The team members spent time together outside of practices and games. They had pizza parties, took photos and watched sporting events.

“I think this year is the closest the team’s ever been socially. We did so much stuff together,” junior Rian Fitzpatrick said. “I think that allowed me to connect to them as people, too, and not just on the field.”

That connection allowed players to be honest with each other when a situation needed it.

“You can approach someone with a topic with your best interests at heart,” Fitzpatrick said. “Even if you’re very direct and say, ‘This is what you’re doing wrong,’ they’ll understand.”

The team had 10 ninth graders by the end of the season. They played a crucial role in the success.

Five players made the Emerald Sound All- Conference Teams. Graphic: Teddy Bergstrom

“They brought an energy of passion,” coach and physical education teacher Nicole Harris said. “They brought such good attitudes and competitiveness. And they are soccer people. I think that freshman class is a soccer class—that’s their passion. This was the season they’ve been looking forward to… they were ready to show up and make an impact on day one.”

Near the end of the season, according to Director of Athletics Rebecca Moe, students and faculty started showing up to more games.

“I love it when people come and watch our games. I feed off the energy of other people,” Fitzpatrick said. “When people were hyping everybody up, I was like, ‘Yes, lets do it!’”

Harris agrees with Fitzpatrick the team plays better when fans are cheering them on.

“It’s always so much better when you have fans out there,” Harris said. “I think that’s one of the unique things about playing for your school, is you’re playing for your friends.”

The team fell to Montesano in a 2-0 loss on Nov. 11 in the quarterfinal game. It was their final game of the season.

“I was pretty devastated when it was over,” Barton said. “Because I care so much about this team, and it was definitely the best high school season I’ve had. I think the amount I cared about that team just kept growing throughout the season.”

Despite the frustration of being eliminated, there was a sense of hopefulness about future seasons to come.

“It’s disappointing, obviously, but I think there’s a lot of optimism and the standard has kind of been set now,” Harris said. “There has been a little bit of slump, and then I think this sets the tone.

“We said this after the last game: ‘It’s sad, we’re graduating four seniors. But everyone else, it’s the expectation now that this is where we’re getting every single year.’”

That was kind of the first real test that we had. When we pulled out that win we were actually down 1-0 and then to come back and win 2-1, it was like okay, we’ve got the grit, we’ve got the passion, we’ve got the talent, to beat very competitive teams because when it started we were beating teams but they weren’t the best level.” – Coach Nicole Harris (Graphic: Teddy Bergstrom)
“The Bear Creek game was so important to our team. We hadn’t played our best game against them earlier that season, so it was impartial that we came out strong. It was so awesome to see everyone fight their hearts out to the very end, and because of it, we punched a ticket to state for the first time since 2018.” – Senior Eliza Barton (Graphic: Teddy Bergstrom)
About the Contributor
Teddy Bergstrom, Editor-in-Chief
Teddy Bergstrom is an Editor-in-Chief of the Puma Press. He is a junior and this is his third year on staff. He loves to write opinion articles and experiential. His favorite part of journalism is covering the community and telling stories that would otherwise go unheard. Outside of school, he loves his dogs, his sister, and listening to indie folk music.