One and Done
Whereas the Santa Monica Lady Corsairs soccer team will not be playing during the Thanksgiving break, that is hardly a consolation for a season's worth of blood, sweat, and tears. A regular season that met high expectations failed to translate to postseason success, as the Lady Corsairs were defeated in a 1-0 match against Cypress College.
A hard-fought match featuring two different defensive styles, the Lady Corsairs were given only their third shutout of the year. In a game where defense was the star, offensive players on both sides had very few opportunities.
"Initially, it took us about a good half to adjust to having to compete with them. But once we adjusted to the environment we were in, we showed up really well. I thought we were the better team in the second half. I thought we had more possession of the ball," said Coach Aaron Benditson.
Needing to win a game on the road before returning home, the Lady Corsairs met a wall when they faced Cypress College (17-1-4) this past Saturday. The Cypress College Chargers had won no fewer than 17 games a season dating back to 2003, and had only lost seven games during that six-year span. The program has numerous regional championships to its name, winning multiple state conference tournaments as well as winning the state title just two years ago.
"It was a really intimidating situation for the girls to walk in there. They [Cypress College] have their banners...They're just a high-powered program," said Benditson.
In addition to the level of prestige Cypress College had to boast, the Lady Corsairs were also facing a defense that had allowed only four goals during the entire regular season, posting 20 shutouts with a schedule of games featuring many community college teams with win totals in the double-digits.
"Both teams don't give up a lot of goals but are used to getting a lot of opportunities to score. When teams like that face each other, they're maybe going to get a half dozen looks at goals, and if they don't convert on those opportunities, that's going to be the difference in the game. They had opportunities and they capitalized on them. We didn't," said Benditson.
With the fall season at its end, it would appear that the campaign for next year would begin around the same time next fall. However, with freshman players returning for next year, the focus turns to keeping their minds on soccer, even in the off-season.
"We get them involved in the springtime, playing in the beginning and playing in soccer classes. They're allowed to participate in outside teams in the off-season. So we try to get them involved, training, keeping them somewhat sharp and thinking about soccer," said Benditson.
"We'll be giving them the rest of the semester and the holiday season off. And when that dies down, we'll get them going again at the start of the spring semester, to get them refocused."
While the Lady Corsairs team this season was composed of almost all freshman players, the few sophomores on the team have an interesting road ahead. While many may be looking for transfers, there are some who also may be looking farther down the road.
"We have exit meetings with every single player. I know a few girls this year have mentioned playing at the next level, and I would love to help them with that if the opportunity comes along," said Benditson.
For some the end of the season comes as a blow to the body of work that the Lady Corsairs put together only to end so quickly. However, as many of the players finally begin to rest from their first or last season, the off-season comes as a time of reflection as to what the team had accomplished.
Amassing over twice as many wins as the previous season (6), the Lady Corsairs can look back on the season as a partial success; while the trophy case may be empty, there are many teams who never get to the stage to play for that trophy. Moreover, the teams that don't win the trophy have even more reason to play for next year.