Blazing a Trail to Victory
By Claudia Knutsson
With only one game left in the season, the Blazers Girls soccer team from Great Neck North Middle School is undefeated for the first time ever. The Blazers opened the season on Oct. 7 with a 4-3 win against W.T. Clarke Middle School. That game set the tone for the season as the eighth graders have gone on to win an additional five games and garnered two ties.
“The team has really been working well together and jelling really nicely,” said Coach Linda Sulinski Weber. “We’re having a successful season and I hope we continue that.”
Following the team’s first victory, the players and their supporters broke out in chants and that enthusiasm followed them into the games that followed. The untouchable power of the Blazers’ winning streak appears to be coming from their determination to make history for their school and share a unique camaraderie.
“We want to win and remain undefeated,” said Emilia Pedersen, the team’s forward. “This has never happened before, but we are also a team of friends and it’s more important to have fun.”
The Blazers have never had an undefeated season. On Tues., Oct. 20, they won 5-3 against Roslyn, on Monday, Oct. 26, they defeated Clarke 3-0, and with only one game left, the players are looking forward to the match against Mineola on Wed., Oct. 28, where they hope to extend their streak.
But the team knows it won’t be easy, said Chloe and Kathleen Katchis, sisters on the Great Neck North Middle School team.
“My expectation is that we will play well,” said Coach Weber, who has coached the seventh and eighth-grade girls soccer teams at Great Neck North for seven years. “I’m really proud of the girls and it has been a great season so far.”
Weber explained that the team has been practicing new drills after each game, specifically mirroring the same conditions and plays so the girls can strengthen their skills for the next match.
Players such as Nerissa Ng said soccer is best for relieving the stress of homework, but parents see greater benefits. Oona Walters, mother of teammate Ashley Walters, said the spirit of camaraderie and good sportsmanship is driving the Blazers girls to their successful season. In addition to playing for Great Neck North Middle School, Ashley Walters also plays on a traveling team.
“Playing in the middle school has been a fantastic experience for her, because she has been able to translate the social piece of being at school onto the field,” said Walters. “The girls have a great chemistry and a wonderful coach this season; you can see the collaboration, the energy and spirit on the field as they play together.” Add to all of that the positive experiences the girls get from being involved in an activity that teaches them how to be part of a team and develop a healthy athletic rivalry and you have the balance between work and fun that Pedersen talked about.
Ashley Ohebshalom, right and center forward, sums up the team’s expectations: “If we try hard and play really well, we can maintain our undefeated streak. I think we are a really good team, so I think we have the potential to stay undefeated for the rest of the season.”
With only a two games left, the Blazers are determined to play their best and end the season with a memorable showcase of teamwork. As Ashley exclaimed, “Go Blazers!”