Each player on the girls’ soccer team wears the same color to practice each day. Visually, they are on the same page. Mentally, they have the same goal: to win. And their record has proved that so far.
The Raiders won their first four games, defeating Weymouth, Braintree, Framingham, and Walpole. After a 1-0 loss to Brookline, the team defeated Newton North 7-1 and rival Needham 5-2. Now first in the Carey division of the Bay State Conference, their winning streak marks their most successful start to a season in the past four years. Coached by Roger Bothe and assistant Tim Mason, the girls’ soccer team has a steady coaching staff—Bothe is the first coach in years to stay for two seasons—and a focused goal.
“We have some general goals, but for now, it’s living in the moment and having 100 percent focus on each game as it comes,” Bothe said. “The girls do a great job of approaching each game one at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves.”
The strategy seems to work so far. In practice, the team focuses on each opponent. According to captain Olivia Francis ’20, Bothe stresses the correlation of effort put in during practice and results in the game.
“One of [Bothe’s] biggest messages since the beginning of the season has been that how we practice goes into how we play. So, we’ve been focusing on having more intense, game-like practices, but also having fun. He’s made it a pretty positive environment and has been really encouraging to all the new kids and returners,” said Francis.
Captain Abby Comella ’20 also believes that the combination of game-like practices and new players stepping up contributes to the team’s success.
“[Bothe] has just kind of been throwing everyone into positions that maybe they haven’t played before, and everybody is doing a really great job with adjusting to that,” Comella said.
Although bringing many new players on the team may throw off the dynamic, Francis and Comella agree that the camaraderie among the team is the best they have seen in years.
“Already, this team is a lot closer than previous years have been at this point, and I think it shows on the field too. There’s a lot more chemistry and we have a lot of really strong returners, but there’s also strong new kids that are coming up,” said Francis.
“We are very intentional about team dinners and activities to encourage the girls to spend time outside of practice and just enjoy each other’s company. The goal is to build a culture that is based around being extremely competitive in practice and being inclusive, responsible, and kind off of the field,” Bothe said.
The Raiders have challenges ahead. On October 3, the Raiders play Natick, last year’s state finalist.
“Natick has always been a tough game. [We have to go] into that game with the mindset that we can win, because I honestly think that we can with this team, and we had a close game with them last season which was unexpected. We’ve always struggled with the mindful part of it. I think just being positive, regardless of who we’re playing, will be important,” said Francis.
Captains Bridget Noonan ’20 and Izzy Turco ’20, in addition to Francis and Comella, will be essential in setting the tone for all games, but especially the hardest ones, according to Bothe.
“The four captains are all unique and special. On the field, they set the tone. [They] play with aggression and lay the groundwork for the style of play we want to utilize,” said Bothe.
On the flip side, Comella has faith that the work of the team’s coaches will allow them to achieve the results they desire.
“[Bothe] has been really encouraging to everyone and he really believes in us all and wants us to be the best that we can. He’s definitely really dedicated to helping us get there. Him and [Mason] both, actually. [Mason] has been really helpful,” said Comella.
With steady coaching and a competitive yet fun environment, the girls’ soccer team has one final goal in mind:
“Playoffs, obviously,” said Francis.