Preview of Girls Soccer Season


Darby Niyo

Under the bright lights, the girls soccer team prepares for their first game.

As the weather warms up, the Berkley Girls’ soccer team is gearing up for their 2022-2023 season. Building on the success of the previous year, the team is eager to carry that momentum into their first game on March 23rd. For the past two months, the girls have been putting in grueling hours of running and training before school, and they are now fully equipped to take on their opponents. This season also brings new players and captains, as well as the second year for head coach Zach Hobson. With a 20-game season ahead of them, how will the team prepare for the challenges that lie ahead?

Junior Emerson Robert, who was a standout player on the junior varsity team last year, is eagerly anticipating her varsity debut. “I can’t wait to play with my senior friends,” she said. When asked about her preparation for the upcoming season, Robert explained, “I’ve participated in all of the preseason activities and played club soccer in the months leading up to the season.” While Robert found the early morning runs challenging, she is grateful for them, saying, “getting out of bed was a struggle,” but believes that the team is now in better shape and will be ready for their first game.

The early running and conditioning is one way the girls can have an upper hand on opposing teams, but another thing that sets a team apart is leadership from their captains. Seniors Alana Blatt, Paige Charlton, Bella Tolly, and Halely Stephenson are the four captains for this year’s season. One thing that the captains are focusing on this year is “making sure everyone has a good attitude,” says Blatt. Doing so, the girls will have better team chemistry on and off the field, Stephenson adds, “Every day we need positive vibes surrounding our practices, team dinners, and games.” Both agree that teamwork makes the dreamwork, and that was something that they were missing last year, ultimately hurting their team’s performance. Spreading positivity is one major goal, but an important thing that the captains and team look forward to this year is “playing and beating Royal Oak.” No matter the sport, the rivalry between the two schools is always on, and Blatt expresses, “it’s going to be a battle.”

With the captains guiding the ship to success, one person that will help the team compete and win the many battles that they’ll face is second-year coach Zach Hobson. Stephenson refers to Hobson as “extremely passionate,” and that may be an understatement. Hobson is a graduate of Berkley High, with accolades including first-team all-state. Hobson continued his playing career and attended Wittenberg University. He refers to how his studies of education at college and love for soccer complement well, as in his eyes, “coaching is an extension of education. So I use soccer and coaching as my way of impacting young people’s lives.” Now having one year under his belt, Hobson hopes to build off last year as “that was only year one of a long-term vision and project.” The project of building a “culture and sustainability” is already underway, as the girls’ team achieved the program’s best win total since 2016 last year. Yet, Hobson is not one to brag, as he explains how “the team needs to push on” and “their objectives for this year, and years to come, are waiting ahead of them.” The team’s objective for this spring is to top the OAA White, achieve OAA Red status, and continue building a positive and successful culture. Hobson hopes that by striving to fulfill these goals, the program will “simply be a place where student-athletes want to be.”

Killing it with kindness and persevering through the early workouts has resulted in the team’s improvement, and they are also looking forward to accomplishing their goals. With a new coach and captains, the culture has shifted, and the Varsity Girls’ team represents who we are as a school and city. Looking ahead, the girls have a rocky road ahead, as the OAA White is not an easy division, but the team has the tools to succeed. Senior captain Paige Charlton summed it up best, saying, “No matter what happens, my favorite thing about soccer is the friendships I have made, and I can’t wait to achieve our goals together as a team.”