Westside girls varsity soccer returned to the field for the first time since 2019 this past week. With high hopes for the 2021 season, first-year head coach Chirstoper Dunford looks to build confidence in the newly structured team. Dunford, a former assistant coach at Creighton University, says the team is excited to be back on the field again after last year’s season was canceled due to Covid.
“Feels like the first time again,” Dunford said. “We were ready last year and obviously with what happened with the pandemic and getting shut down two weeks after training. We feel like we have been ready for a while so we are just excited again.”
Coming into his first year, Dunford has spent large amounts of time in the preseason working with the team on having their formations and roles down. With a very different look to the team after a year off, Dunford wants his team to emphasize their roles.
“We have done a lot of work on our formation,” he said. “We are trying to get people to understand what is required of their role and their responsibilities of their role. We are trying to be more organized.”
Although there wasn’t a season last year, the Warriors have some returning varsity players from their 2019 season. During the 2019 season, the girl’s team made the state tournament with a 10-6 record. Losing to the eventual state champion Millard West Wildcats, the team showed lots of young talent. This year the Warriors have a well-balanced team led by seniors Lena Homan, Mikayla Capzo, and Ellie Tempero. Dunford believes the Warriors have one of the best players in the state in Ellie Tempero.
“I think Ellie Tempero is one of the best female players in the state right now,” he said. “She can do a bit of everything. She can be relied on to score some goals.”
St. Thomas commit Tempero hopes to continue off of her success her sophomore year and junior club season. Coming off of a slight ankle injury, Tempero looks to have a strong start to the season.
“I am really looking forward to spending time with my teammates,” Tempero said. “I really like all of them and we have an amazing coaching staff. I am looking forward to being coached by them.”
Along with the returning players, the Warriors have incoming freshmen who look to play an important role on the team. Freshman Ruby Cunningham hopes to grow in her first season in a high school uniform.
“It was definitely a new experience because it is different from the club. It was way more intense and physical,” said Cunningham.
The Westside Warriors girls soccer team has made 25 appearances in the state tournament and been to the finals seven times yet are still looking for their first state title. The Warriors will look to win their first state championship in school history.