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Midvale Journal

Champions on the Rise: Hillcrest High School Girls Soccer Team

Aug 26, 2016 01:50PM ● By Sarah Almond

Members of the Hillcrest girls soccer team warm up with ball handling drills before practice. More than 40 girls made the team after trying out at the beginning of August. –Sarah Almond

For the Hillcrest High School girls soccer team, the start of the 2016 season was expected to be challenging. Not only did the group graduate 12 players last year, but the Huskies also welcomed a new coaching staff, which often means practicing different training tactics and learning new playing formations.
However, after tying longtime rival Jordan High School in a preseason game on August 9, the girls are excited about how these new changes might lead to greater overall success this season.
“So far, things are going a lot better than expected,” said senior co-captain Amanda Estrada. “We took on a big group of freshman and we have a lot of new players coming onto the varsity pitch.”
More than 40 girls showed up to the Huskies’ two-day, three-session-long tryout period on Aug. 2 and 3. Every girl made the team.
“There’s a lot of instant chemistry with the team, which is really nice,” said new head coach Kristine Jaussi. “We haven’t had any issues and the girls get along great.”
Though this is Jaussi’s first year as head coach, the Hillcrest math teacher has been an assistant coach for the girls and boys soccer programs for the past five years.
“Having a whole new coaching staff has been different,” said senior co-captain Elizabeth Weaver. “The whole transition has been interesting, but smooth.”
This year, Jaussi focused on getting an early jump on preseason conditioning. On the first day of tryouts Jaussi introduced a new training tradition to the team: a three-mile run on State Street.
“Before every practice we go on at least one run,” said junior co-captain Kensley Hill. “The coaches are really trying to focus on getting our skills up with tired legs to reenact a game scenario. We also run ladders and gassers where you have to run 50 yards in less and less time. We start with a lot of time and typically get down to about 25 seconds.”
For Jaussi, this type of training is designed to get the players used to running for extended periods of time. With hard conditioning out of the way, she can start working with the team on improving tactical skills and making calculated, split-second decisions on the field.
Aside from changing the Huskies’ training methods and altering their style of play, Jaussi is placing emphasis on the importance of unity within the group.
“At the end of the season, I want these girls to leave feeling like we’ve won as a team and lost as a team,” Jaussi said. “We stand together on and off the field. I want this to be a program that the school is proud of and that the girls are proud to be a part of; that the community is excited about and proud to support.”
This message has been well received by the team.
“I feel like the coaches are definitely putting more of a winning aspect on this season,” Estrada said. “They aren’t playing any favorites when it comes to seniors or juniors.”
Hill elaborated. “This year is definitely more about skill level and who is putting in the most effort and giving it 100 percent,” she said. “And I think this is really encouraged healthy competition between us as players.”
This fresh concept of working hard to earn their spot has sparked a new sense of vigor amongst the team. As a reminder to never stop fighting for success, the team’s nine senior players developed an overarching theme for the 2016 season: Rise.
The theme was drawn from pop-singer Katy Perry’s hit anthem for the 2016 Olympics, “Rise,” where she sings about victory being achieved by dedication, hard work, and determination.
“We are super excited to get this theme going,” Hill said. “We are going to use ‘rise’ in different ways, like ‘rise’ to playing against a team that has always beat us and ‘rise’ to the challenge of pushing through even when you’re tired. We’re excited to use it to get the team pumped.”
With the team’s first conference game being held just weeks after tryouts, both Jaussi and her players are looking forward to a successful season full of growth, team unity, challenging games and hopefully, some hard-earned wins.
“I’m just really excited about being involved with these girls,” Jaussi said. “They are a great group of girls and it is so fun to watch them play and have fun, and it’s so fun to watch them improve. I’m excited to watch these girls learn that even though soccer can be really hard, it can be really fun and it can be a beautiful sport.”
The Huskies play their first conference game at Hillcrest High School against Cyprus on August 23 at 3:30 p.m. Their final home game of the season is against Olympus High School on September 29 at 7 p.m.