The St. Martin’s Episcopal School’s men’s and women’s soccer teams have nearly doubled in size leading into the 2016 – 2017 season.
“Last year, we had a lot of people that had to play a lot of minutes, and people got worn down in the second half,” said Men’s Soccer Coach Michael Huwe. “This year, it will be nice to have subs that can go in and expel some of our starters.”
The members of the soccer team made a strong effort to gather more players for the team this year.
“Soccer’s a great sport, but it wasn’t an expectation of mine that our program would almost double in size in one year,” Huwe said. “I’m pretty happy about it.”
Huwe encouraged his players to go out and recruit more people interested in the soccer program.
“I told them to let their friends know what a good time they had playing and that the more players we have, the more chances we have to field an effective squad with 11 quality players on the field at all times,” Huwe said.
Senior Captain River Relan participated in the successful recruiting process with the help of his fellow senior players.
“On the football team, our defensive coordinator is our soccer coach, so he told everyone to play,” Relan said. “Everyone likes him as a coach, so that’s why everyone wants to play.”
Huwe has a simple yet effective way of coaching: everyone needs to feel important and understand their role on the team.
“I’m honest with my players,” Huwe said. “Every player that comes into the sport can find a role in it, so I’ve got a spot for everybody.”
The team is looking to have a great season, especially with the big increase in numbers. They are excited to avenge their losses against their biggest rival, Metairie Park Country Day School.
“I want to beat them badly,” Relan said. “Last year, we didn’t win. This year, we want to beat Country Day. That’s the goal for the season.”
Huwe has strong expectations for his players this season and also has the same goal as his players: to beat Country Day.
"My expectations for this year are pretty similar to last year,” Huwe said. “I expect us to get better and closer as a team as the year goes on. Our second goal is to beat Country Day—to beat them twice this year, not just once. I’d like to advance in the playoffs past the first round.”
The St. Martin’s women’s soccer team has a bright future ahead of them because of an increase in players. With a new coach and an optimistic view on what is to come, Sophomore Charley Leopold is ecstatic to be a part of this year’s team.
“Coach Heather seems like she knows what she’s doing,” Leopold said. “She’s really good with us and very patient. With more players, we’ll have more subs, which is good. More girls will get breaks during the games. It will be more teamwork.”
Leopold believes that the increase in numbers will let the girls help each other more than they have been able to in the past, and provide opportunities for everyone.
“There will be more girls playing the same position, so they can help each other out rather than going into a position they don’t know much about,” Leopold said.
Junior Maansi Solanky is looking forward to bonding with her fellow teammates as the season progresses.
“We’re all getting to know one another; we’re super close,” Solanky said. “We’re not really focused on the winning aspect this year, just growing and making our team better.”
Solanky shares leadership with other players to lead the young team to success.
“I think in general, even sophomores are helping out because we have a lot of middle school students on the team,” Solanky said. “Leadership is more spread out, and I like that. I think it’s really nice to have a lot of people caring for underclassmen, and it’s helping our team.”
Head Women’s Soccer Coach Heather Fitzgerald enjoyed playing soccer all her life. As a coach, she makes sure the girls learn from her mistakes when she was a player.
“If I had to go back to my high school season, I wish I had taken it less seriously and enjoyed myself more than being so serious about it,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald strives to help the team improve their skills on the field and to have fun, regardless of the outcome of the competition.
“I always make it fun,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not always about winning. Winning is nice, and that is a goal to have, but we should remember that we do it because we love it. I try to teach the girls how to enjoy themselves.”