The Our Lady of Mercy Academy girls’ soccer team has dominated its way to an 12-0 record without asking for sympathy.
Following an offseason filled with tragedy after their coach Phil Caporale died in an automobile accident in May, the Villagers’ best start in program history is the result of talent, hard work and togetherness, not adversity, according to their new coach Gary Jost.
“There is no adversity,” he said . “We’ve been moving forward since day one.”
The strong start shouldn’t come as a big surprise. The Villagers are coming off a solid season last fall when they recorded a 13-9 record including a trip to the Non-Public B South semifinal round.
OLMA, which returned five starters from last year’s team, has flexed its muscles on both ends of the field.
The Villagers attack boasts 13 individual goal scorers, including 11 players with two or more goals, four players with nine or more goals and a handful of goals from defenders. The defense has pitched seven shutouts this year.
It’s all part of OLMA’s simple philosophy — while on the field, do everything as a team.
“Our…game plan going into a game is always the same: when we don’t have the ball, we have 11 defenders. When we win the ball back, we transition immediately to offense,” Jost explained. “The minute we don’t have the ball we defend. The minute we get the ball we attack.”
Senior captain Caitlyn Covella subscribes to her coach’s mindset, believing the Villagers have been successful because they play as a team and “aren’t worried about scores.”
Jost has no trouble giving credit where credit is due, which seems to be everywhere.
“I think what’s made us successful is a multitude of things: the support from the school, the support from the parents, the support from the players, a great group of freshmen and a group of older players that make the freshmen part of it.”
Tziarra King has been part of that freshmen success. She, too, attributes the team’s good fortune to its preparation and confidence, but she’s still surprised by just how good they’ve been.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” King said. “It makes me happy because I didn’t expect for us to be this awesome. We came out on the field and completely destroyed everybody and it was a good surprise.”
Junior Taylor Tighe agreed.
“I expected us to be good, but no one was expecting us to come out like this. It’s awesome.”
Confidence and morale are running rampant, though they know that anything can happen between now and the end of the season. However, Jost doesn’t seem worried. He’s confident in his game plan and has no reason not to be. With the team currently undefeated, why fix what isn’t broken?
“We’ll keep doing what we do until someone makes us not do it,” Jost said. “We’ll make some adjustments on the attack occasionally. I might move some players around if I see something that we might be able to exploit.”
Good luck trying to do the same to OLMA.
“On the attack, I don’t know how you stop us,” Jost said. “Who are you picking out? There are eight players that can score at any time.”