Girls Soccer Eager to Kick Off New Season

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Courtesy of Nikki Penaflor

Last year’s Girls Varsity Soccer Team poses for a team picture.

Ghada Atalla, Staff Writer

The UC High Girls Soccer Team is pushing through difficult times while apart and is hopeful that a season will take place this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the California Interscholastic Federation’s (CIF) education based COVID-19 guidelines, girls soccer would be allowed to return in the orange (moderate) tier (cifsds.org).
Last season, the Centurions finished with an overall record of 14-7-3. They also managed a third place finish in the City League, according to a high school sports statistics website (maxpreps.com).
Junior Forward Caroline Wittenberg stated her goals for the season: “My goals for the team are to make it farther than we did last year and play every game as if it is our last. On a personal level, my goal is to make an impact on the field every time I get the chance.” Junior Forward Nikki Penaflor has set two main goals for the team if the season resumes: make it to the CIF playoffs and finish first in their League.
Senior Co-Captains Payton Richardson and Gaby Bruce are eager to lead given the chance this year. Bruce said, “I’m excited to lead this team, even though we haven’t been able to meet in person. Watching the team come together over the past few years has been a great experience, and I’m excited to take my turn as the leader. We understand our strengths and our weaknesses as a team which really helps us. All of the girls have a great relationship with each other which makes communication easier on and off the field.”
Losing a season of sports has adversely affected many athletes. Bruce said, “People don’t cherish what they have until they lose it,” she continued, “I think that playing sports is something that we have all taken for granted in the past. Since we haven’t been able to play, we appreciate it that much more.”
Bruce shared, “I think one of the special things about our team is that every single girl brings something special to the team. Wittenberg added, “Every girl shows up and puts her best effort in every day; everyone has something unique which they bring to the team. It shows in how we play. We come together very well and inspire each other to play better and work harder.”
Wittenberg shared how the pandemic has affected the team: “Not being allowed to do anything as a team is a huge change. The lack of in-person practices has made me feel like I’m falling behind.”
Wittenberg is eager to play soccer in-person, but in the meantime she enjoys practicing at her own pace. “This sport is important to me because it’s given me an outlet. It is something to look forward to both at school and privately on my club team. I have played for a long time; it has become a part of who I am,” she said.
Bruce added, “Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see my teammates due to COVID-19. However, we are an extremely close-knit team, so I’m confident that when we return. Everyone will be happy to see each other, and it’ll bring us even closer! With that being said, if soccer resumes we will all be focused on cherishing every moment we have together.”