“The Avengers…We End Games”

Durand Rice
Many people believe that in sports there is no better story than a team going undefeated and winning a championship. For the Landmark Christian School middle school girls soccer team this season, they showed that losing a game in the regular season and then avenging that loss in the championship game makes for an even better story. The middle school Lady War Eagle soccer team finished the 2019 season with a 12-1 record and won the GICAA Region 2 Championship and the GICAA District 1 State Championship.
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Many people believe that in sports there is no better story than a team going undefeated and winning a championship. For the Landmark Christian School middle school girls soccer team this season, they showed that losing a game in the regular season and then avenging that loss in the championship game makes for an even better story.

The middle school Lady War Eagle soccer team finished the 2019 season with a 12-1 record and won the GICAA Region 2 Championship and the GICAA District 1 State Championship.  During their 13 match season, the girls outscored their opponents by a margin of 65-6. The only loss during the season came against Hebron Christian Academy in a non-region contest by a score of 0-2. In the rematch for the District 1 State Championship, the Lady War Eagles avenged their single loss for the season by defeating the Lions 1-0 in the title match. A late second-half goal on a beautiful strike gave Landmark the lead, and the tenacious defense posted their ninth shutout of the season to preserve the victory.

To begin the season, expectations for success in the win and loss column were a bit unclear.  There was a solid group of players returning from the previous year’s team, mixed with some rising sixth-grade players. The team felt confident that they could compete with any team they faced and made it a goal (no pun intended) to advance to the GICAA playoffs. First-year Head Coach Jason Jones and the team felt much better about the outlook of the season after they opened the season with a convincing 7-0 victory.

Even though the road may have seemed smooth, Coach Jones and the girls faced challenges which they were able to overcome and persevere. “Scheduling around all the different student activities was challenging. Having DAILY emails to parents updating on practices, changes, schedules, etc. was KEY. Having all players and parents on the same page made life a lot easier. Even without any assistant coaches, it became fairly simple to manage.” Coach Jones also made it a point to keep practices fresh and new each time the girls took the pitch. “While there are core drills we conduct, we wanted to also push ourselves to learn new things. We had a variety of skill sets, but all players embraced the routine of practices and how we approached the game.” Practicing the discipline of getting better every day certainly helped prepare these young ladies for the season and for life.

There were two defining moments in the 2019 season for the team. The first defining moment of the season came after the first loss of the season versus Hebron. The loss allowed the team to refocus and remove any overconfidence that the early season success had provided. The next moment came after a tough road contest with First Presbyterian Day in Macon. The tale of the tape had our girls outmanned physically, as FPD was very tall and intimidating when we got off the bus. Coach Jones challenged the girls to ignore the size disadvantage and play hard for ten minutes and see what happens. Two quick goals by our girls in the first half of the game allowed Landmark to hold on for a 3-2 victory. The loss was the first of the season for perennial soccer power FPD. “It was at that point we realized we could play with any team in the state if we gave it our all,” said Coach Jones.
 
When I asked Coach Jones to sum up the season, he said: “At the end of the day, I remind myself that this is just MS GIRLS SOCCER. This is not MLS or the Olympics, etc. The focus is to give the girls a great soccer experience and build lasting relationships. Additionally, it was very important to have a great relationship with the VARSITY COACH. We are building a program and that means that these amazing middle school girls will one day play on varsity. So understanding what varsity was doing, how they are practicing, etc. was very important. I am very proud to have coached the MS GIRLS soccer at Landmark! Amazing team!”
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