Girls soccer commemorates nine seniors during senior night; game concludes in a draw

Grace+Combs+%2720+attempting+to+catch+up+to+the+ball.

Julio Hernandez

Grace Combs '20 attempting to catch up to the ball.

Naomi Schmitt and Olivia Zoll

As the sun set on the chilly evening of Jan. 21, nine seniors tied their cleats for one of the last times of their high school soccer career. In addition to a league game versus Cate, this marked the annual Senior Night celebration, an event to honor the graduating class before their final game on their home field. 

Julio Hernandez
The seniors gathered for a photo on Senior Night.

The nostalgic night kicked off with the younger Foothill players forming a tunnel at the midline, ready to cheer for their seniors. The graduating class included Grace Combs ’20, Elice DeLong ‘20, Katie Denger ‘20, Maddie Espinoza ’20, Keara Fitzgerald ‘20, Hayden Hickerson ‘20, Kami Kunes ‘20, Muriel Rowley ‘20, and Ava Sivoraraj ‘20. As they strutted by their teammates, the girls were joined by their parents and family members.

Head coach Jack Craig stated that one of his priorities during his three years as the head coach to these seniors has been to build his team’s foundation off of “the culture of family, commitment, and love.” The team was close, and the bittersweetness of the night was felt throughout the stadium.

 

 

“I am going to miss the environment that came with the team, all the celebrations of our victories; Coach Jack and Patty that had a very big impact on my life,” said Rowley.

Claire Hernandez
Photo Credit: Legends Photography

The heartfelt feelings were mutual; “this was a really special group to me,” Craig  said, “I’m really proud of them.”

Each girl was awarded a bouquet of flowers, and Craig said a few words about their individual journey and spark. Then, he read a heartfelt message from each player’s parents. 

As the senior night celebration came to a close, the Ventura College Stadium was filled with the buzz of good-natured excitement, and the players took the field, marking the start of the Dragons’ last home game before playoff season. Despite the high energy, both teams would end the night goalless. 

In honor of Denger and Hickerson, siblings Avery Denger ‘23 (V) and Bryce Hickerson ‘23 (JV) joined the nine seniors in the starting lineup.

The Dragons kicked off the ball, where the opposing Cate Rams quickly pushed forward in an attempt to create an offensive run. However, just a few minutes into the first half, the ball moved onto the Rams’ side of the field, marking the beginning of the offensive position that Foothill would hold for the majority of the game.

The first shot of the night was taken by fellow senior Combs, who executed many of the 33 shots taken over the course of the game and dominated the field. More strong plays were made from the dominantly senior line-up, alongside Claire Hernadez ‘22 and Lily Shadden ‘23, both who made their own mark during the game.

After a quick halftime punctuated by some music by Michael Jackson and vendor food, both the crowd and the opposing teams’ energy was revamped, as was demonstrated in the shift in gameplay during the second half. 

“The first half I thought we started out a little bit slow, it wasn’t our best performance,” remarked the Dragons’ goalie Fitzgerald, “but the second half we brought tons of effort and tons of shots, and we really improved.”

Shadden started the second half with a corner kick that barely bounced out of the crossbar. The stadium was filled by the stamping of feet and comments of support, and the Dragons’ increased focus could be felt in the stands.   

The Rams regained control for a brief struggle and attempt at the goal but ultimately the Dragons kept an aggressive onslaught against the Rams’ defense.

The game progressed through two periods of overtime, each lasting five minutes, but in the end, both teams went home with their hands empty. 

“I mean the girls played hard,” states Craig about the score, “they did everything they could possibly do, we had 33 shots and if we don’t get a goal in 33 shots then it’s just not our night.”

Despite the loss, the seniors did not leave the field with their heads down. In Combs’ case, it was instead a time for reflection. “Time really does fly by,” said Combs. “As cliche as it sounds, high school goes by so fast and everyone should remember to slow down and enjoy it while it lasts.”

Following their final league game at La Reina on Feb. 4, the Dragons will begin the long road to avenge for the short playoff run from the 2018-2019 season

What do you think?