The Westfield High gymnasium is decorated with sports banners in celebration of the numerous Bulldog athletic teams that have captured Concorde District, Northern Region or state AAA titles over the school’s brief 10 year history.
One banner not yet raised is one commemorating a girls’ soccer title. But Bulldog faithful are hoping it won’t be too long until the girls’ soccer program has a championship to its name. It has not happened yet, but the team, under first year head coach Kristi Williams, is headed in the right direction to one day – perhaps later this season – attaining such a lofty goal.
Williams, who has served as the program’s JV coach and/or varsity assistant over the past five years, said her team’s five seniors – the leaders of the squad – are determined to make this a breakthrough season for Westfield.
“They want to leave that lasting impression of raising that immortal [championship] banner in the gym,” said the coach.
Those seniors are midfielder Brittany Bonzano, defender Jenny Greenlief, midfielder Lauren Hicks, defender Katie Jenkins and midfielder Abby Sams.
“I’ve got five seniors and they’re all team captains,” said Williams. “They have those intangibles of leadership qualities and capabilities. They’ve set the tone this year and want to do something spectacular.”
The team’s underclassmen have definitely taken the lead of their older teammates as Westfield, which was 4-9 a year ago, has enjoyed a nice turnaround this season.
Following Tuesday night’s well played 1-0 loss at district opponent and defending state AAA champion Chantilly, the Bulldogs held an impressive 6-2-1 record.
Westfield, in a team-oriented possession style of play, won its first six games this spring – victories over McLean, Woodson, Robinson, South Lakes, Herndon and Yorktown – before falling for the first time in a game at South County, 1-0, on April 14. Two days later, in a home game, the Bulldogs played a scoreless tie game against Jefferson. That was followed by the setback to Chantilly (6-0-1) earlier this week.
Chantilly coach Melissa Bibbee was impressed with Westfield’s play.
“They’re a good team,” said Bibbee, of Westfield. “They’re playing a lot harder this year and they’re more organized defensively in the midfield. The speed in the game tonight from both teams was amazing.”
The 0-0 deadlock affair with Jefferson was frustrating because Westfield had several good scoring chances in the overtime contest.
“My hats off to Jefferson,” said Williams. “They came out and played us real, real tough. We had our chances, we just didn’t put the ball in.”
<b>BONZANO</b> leads Westfield in scoring with eight goals. Defensively, Greenlief , junior Mollie Leon and Jenkins have anchored a unit that has allowed just three goals all season. Sophomore goalie Shannon Casey has been outstanding. She made numerous saves in the loss to the Chargers.
Williams has enjoyed her first season at the helm of the program, but said it has been hard work.
“Parts of it are definitely challenging,” said Williams. “I want the players to take the same approach I do – to take the season one game at a time.”
The Bulldogs’ team motto this season puts the emphasis on `team.’ It goes, `Not one of us is stronger than all of us.’
“It’s really all about the team and everyone doing everything we can do in both practices and games,” said Williams.
Westfield was scheduled to host West Springfield this Thursday night, April 22 at 7. The Bulldogs will be looking to snap a three-game stretch in which they have not won a game. There are still four games remaining before the start of the district tournament on May 17.
“We just need to play hard, stay committed to our style of play and take advantage of opportunities,” said Williams. “You have to play as mistake-free as possible.”