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Amity girls soccer fighting through tough times

SALEM — Amity has made an important decision. The Warriors are tired of losing, and it’s time they do something about it. Overcoming adversity can take a team from good to great. The Warriors (4-5) have had to overcome adversity for far too long. They finished 4-10 last season but have matched their 2011 win total this season.

Coach Stephanie Hinkle remembers last season well but is quick to remind everyone it’s not last year.

“Last season was not one we want to remember,” Hinkle said. “We did not play anywhere near our true potential. We knew that and are making sure we play Warrior soccer this year.”

The Warriors weren’t able to play their brand of soccer Monday against 2011 Special District 3 champion Western Mennonite (8-0-1), losing 7-0 on the road.

If Hinkle could start this season over again, she probably would, she said. While the squad has matched its win total of four with five matches still to be played in this year’s season, the Warriors stumbled into this year’s schedule with some unexpected hurdles.

The most crucial were the multitude of injuries the Warriors have had to scheme around. There were enough injuries to the point where Hinkle wasn’t able to remember all of them.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been hit with injuries,” Hinkle said. “Some of our top players are hurt right now so some players are in new positions and we’re having to overcome that.”

When a team experiences a losing spell, an enormous obstacle it deals with is keeping morale high. With the Warriors going 8-15 between this season and last, Hinkle admits keeping spirits high has been more difficult for the coaches, not players.

“These girls are a great group of girls,” Hinkle said. “They are always ready to play and are always excited to play and play with each other. We have such a close team.”

Fans in attendance for the match Monday at Western Mennonite witnessed the Warriors trying to break the rut. Amity players went out on the field 40 minutes before the game and went through their regular passing drills together and played a game of defensive keep away. The positive thing to Hinkle about that was her players did it without prompting and took it seriously.

As Hinkle explained, this was rare. For the coaches it showed players were trying to overcome this season’s misfortunes on their own without the aid of the coaching staff.

“Wow, that is great to see,” Hinkle said. “They’re out warming up hard, and they aren’t being silly about it. Normally by now we have to go out there and get them refocused, but the fact that they are doing it on their own shows huge growth as a team.”

The biggest challenge of the day was the undefeated Pioneers. In the loss, the Warriors were outmatched in speed. The Pioneers didn’t necessarily play a better match; they were just faster, which allowed for fairly easy breakaway goals.

It took 9 minutes, 45 seconds for the Pioneers to nab a 1-0 lead and only eight more to go up 2-0. Western Mennonite led 5-0 at the half.

Hinkle faced a tough test, crafting a halftime speech that would inspire her team to keep playing hard and motivate them.

“We told them to play the way they played the first ten minutes,” Hinkle said. “Play more offensive so that we’re not always back on our heels playing defensively and keep pushing the ball and shooting.”

In the end, the Pioneers’ assault was too much for the Warriors. Despite the big win, Pioneer co-coaches Ben Handrich and Kelsey Summer felt the Warriors were a worthy opponent.

“We had to take them seriously,” Handrich said. “They’ve played some good close games.”

The consensus around the Amity program is things are on the upswing and the Warriors are not far from the greatness the Pioneers have possessed for so long.

“It’ll take year-round commitment,” Hinkle said. “Along with good recruiting at the middle school level. We have some great recruits coming through.”

The losing attitude at Amity is gone and by all team accounts, the losing play should be soon to follow.

Notes: Freshman Kari Louthan scored four of Western Mennonite’s seven goals and had an assist.

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