For six weeks now, Lawrence High’s girls soccer players have searched for their first win of the season. The Lions have been shut out, blown out, lost by one and even tied, but victory has remained unobtainable.
As miserable as an 0-11-1 record has been to endure, somehow the LHS players have done it while refraining from completely hating each other or the difficult process.
Sure, the Lions have heard the jabs or jokes from those outside the team. First-year Lawrence coach Justin Young learns second-hand accounts, via his players, of unfavorable chatter in the halls or on Twitter all the time.
“There’s definitely been an issue of having a negative aura that’s out there,” Young said, “and trying to fight it and keep these girls positive.”
Captain Mallory Thompson said girls sports, in general, and even professional women’s sports, don’t get much support.
“Aside from that it’s girls soccer and people think it’s not as entertaining,” Thompson said, “then, having a losing record, it’s just difficult. We hear a lot of negative comments, but we just brush it off and use it as motivation to prove them wrong.”
Lawrence’s struggles have made the team an easy target. The Lions have four 10-0 losses and four more by six goals or worse. They’ve been shut out seven times — five in their previous seven games. LHS opponents have outscored LHS, 82-6.
Senior Lions captain Ella Magerl said it is up to all of the players on the toiling team to keep their heads up.
“Everyone out here really loves the game, and they have to,” she said.
Playing for four head coaches in four seasons has been no easy task, Magerl added: “Every year it’s something new.”
Another part of the on-field struggles, goalkeeper Alex Ewy said, is the high-quality competition in the Sunflower League. She admitted thoughts of dread can at times be difficult to fight.
“Honestly, they do creep in,” Ewy said. “We all have to deal if we have a tough game coming up.”
Even pregame excitement or nervous energy can be a deterrent. Ewy has felt nauseated before some games and had to get her head in a better place before Lawrence’s opponents started gunning for the goal she was protecting.
“You don’t have any time to be nervous and make a mistake,” the goalie said. “You’ve got to be on your toes, and that goes for everyone.”
In the hours that have followed some of Lawrence’s closest games, such as a 2-2 tie against Baldwin, Thompson reflected about what could have been done differently.
“After games that we lose for silly reasons,” Thompson said, “I can’t sleep the next night.”
The Lions host the Firebirds at 3:30 p.m. today. They will have four chances in five nights this week to get their elusive first victory.