Conflict and camaraderie

How the varsity boys soccer team has persevered through challenges

by Jade Doerksen, Editor in Chief

The ball whizzes around the field from player to player as the boys prepare to play, the stadium begins to fill with spectators, and the anticipation for the game to come sets in. As children, the boys on the Shorewood varsity soccer team could only imagine themselves in this situation, but today it is their reality. Most of them have been playing for years, rising through the ranks to find themselves on the Shorewood varsity team.

Brady Hodgen, senior, is one of those who has been making early strides. Hodgen made the varsity team his freshman year. “I was the only freshman on the varsity team which made it that much more intense,” he said. Playing against 18-year-olds when you are 14 or 15 can be difficult. “You’re playing against people that are way bigger and way physically better than you,” Hodgen continued. However, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t success. “When we played Shorecrest my freshman year, I scored a free kick [around] the 90th minute…which sent the game into overtime,” he said. Free kicks can come with a lot of pressure. “It feels like time is in slow motion. It’s just you and the ball,” Hodgen said.

Varisty boys soccer plays an away game vs Edmonds Woodway (by Jade Doerksen)

That pressure isn’t something that only he feels. Atticus Benitz, sophomore, joined varsity this year. “[The away game against Mariner] was one of the first games I was nervous for. It was my first time playing a new position, and playing on varsity.

After five or 10 minutes I eased into it,” Benitz said.  After becoming more comfortable on the field, Benitz scored a brace, meaning he scored twice that game.

Away games can be difficult. “It’s you and your team against what feels like the world,” Hodgen said. Due to COVID, more home games felt like away ones. “Last year, even when we played home games they felt like away games because there weren’t that many people,” Benitz said. Depending on the away game, they can be very quiet, or taunt the opposing team. Fabricio Navarro, senior and varsity team player, noted the jeers. “Sometimes some of the [home fans] talk and they will boo,” said Navarro. Mason Lucero, junior and varsity team player, thinks games are “really fun with all the heckling,” particularly Shorewood-Shorecrest games.

The varsity boys soccer team celebrates with fans after a win against Cedarcrest.  (Photo courtesy of Atticus Benitz)

In other circumstances, Shorecrest (SC) students are friends and acquaintances, but on the pitch it’s a different story. “[SC has] five of my teammates that play on club and they’re all really good.” Hodgen continued, “It was just two, three months ago I was playing with them, and now it’s like we’re enemies.” A number of SW soccer players said these games were the most difficult, but Jadon Lavery, senior, disagrees. “I think the hardest games are the teams that are the easiest ones because everyone doesn’t want to try as hard or they don’t expect them to be good. You have to treat every team like they’re Shorecrest,” he said.

And though sometimes there are losses, the sporting environment is more important. “It’s less about the quality of the games and more about events to strengthen their bonds. “We had a run at Green Lake, and we’re probably going to have team breakfasts on the weekend,” Lavery said. “You have a whole group of people you can go to and talk to. I feel like they’re always going to have your back. It’s a nice connection to have,” said Benitz.

Unfortunately, sometimes athletes are unable to play for injuries or otherwise, but the team sticks together. Lucero is not an exception. He has been sidelined due to an injury so far this season, but has been watching closely and cheering on his teammates. “[Being injured] sucks, but it’s fun to look at the game from a different perspective…[it] makes you appreciate the game more,” he said.

As a team, boys soccer hopes to make it to state, and various players want to continue playing in college. Some, like Lavery, don’t plan on playing in college but want to make the most of the rest of their high school experience. Lavery said: “I want to leave the program on a good note and make sure the sophomores and juniors are ready for next year.”