Soccer season is in full swing, and after a year of challenges, and losing playoff season last year, the season is more meaningful than ever.
“I think we all came into this season optimistic but also with the idea that we aren’t going to take anything for granted,” Head Coach Josh Hill said, “I still feel bad for last year’s seniors that didn’t get the chance to play in the playoffs. I think this group is playing for those seniors this year.”
Soccer playoff season is usually held in March, and that’s when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States in full force.
“I think my hope is just for everyone to be on the same page,” senior varsity player Jair Ortega said. “So when we face struggles during the season that we can overcome it without having to do anything. I just hope that our teams are on the same page.”
And the preseason this year is tough. Every two years districts change, and Dripping Springs was moved out of the 5A Austin district to the 5A hill country district.
“We scheduled a tough preseason against some really good 6A programs to prepare us for the season. Our district changed from last year and it will be much more competitive this year,” Coach Hill said.
District play usually consists of two games per week, one on Tuesday and one on Friday.
“Soccer season is hectic. It’s a lot of balancing injuries from different players, people who don’t pass, people who are sick one day,” Ortega said. “And it’s like, we all got to balance, playing a game at the beginning of the week in the game at the end of the week. And it could be very tough games. And it’s just very hectic, but fun in the end, because it’s a grind.”
Despite the challenge that district play can be, it’s worth it, creating memories that players treasure.
“My favorite soccer memory has to be when we went to Frisco and played the high school tournament last year,” Ortega said. “I think it’s the best group the high school’s ever had. And it was just amazing to see us play against top-caliber high schools and just, really hold our own and then just show that. Being able to bond with the whole team just felt really amazing. And I think you can ask anyone from that team is definitely their favorite part of the year.”
There are 16 games in district play this season with two byes, and the team has already played two tournaments.
“I just love that It gives me an outlet to constantly get away from everything and just like, let me be myself without, you know, any distractions like school and other stuff like that,” Ortega said.
While soccer is an outlet for many boys on the team, it’s also incredibly competitive. Coach Hill mentioned that the varsity team has skilled players for every position, and that comes from many players also playing club.
“I think balance is not too hard just because it’s like when high school starts club ends, and so you can completely switch your focus over,” Ortega said. “So it’s not too hard on me, I guess because it’s like there’s not really much balancing for me to do. It kind of allows me to, like, just focus on one thing.”
As district play drags out, players and coaches alike are taking every minute of playing time as a gift. “I hope that we get a chance to play every game,” Coach Hill said. “Our goals are to win district and put together a long playoff run. I think this year’s team has a great shot to have a special year.”
By Cady Russell, Sports Editor and Online Editor-in-Chief
Featured photo by Max Levey