By Isabel Kettler – It’s hard to keep one’s spirits up when you’re running back and forth across Seacrest field, fighting to score one last goal. But for the players on the Lincoln High Varsity Girls’ Soccer team, it’s just another day. In fact, their willingness to get out on the field and play their best is not lost on anyone, especially their head coach, Duane Johnson, Jr. “The kids were extremely committed this year,” Johnson said. “And I think that kind of showed in how the season went.”
Though other teams had statistically better records than the Links’ final record of five wins and twelve losses, no team has worked as hard to improve themselves. In fact, this current season marks the most amount of wins the team has had since 2004. And the team attributes this to their unfailing dedication.
It also didn’t hurt that a number of motivated new players joined the team. “[The team] had a lot of new faces and some freshmen that played pretty well. Everybody contributed and we just got better as the season progressed,” said Johnson. Junior Katelyn Foutz said that the new players were integral to finding their “team shape.” “Throughout the season we had to switch around players a lot, especially with the new players on the team… eventually it all worked out,” Foutz said.
The Links faced off against a number of tough opponents, most notably the Lincoln Southwest Silverhawks. “I think they’re the best in state this year, they’re pretty good,” said freshman Lily Reineke, citing that game as the toughest the team played all year. “They just seemed to have a lot of speed and depth,” said Johnson.
But this season was not without its successes. Johnson cites a game against Fremont as his favorite of the season. “That was kind of when everything fell into place for us. I think we scored seven goals that game… and we were playing good defense at the same time,” Johnson said.
But the game the team really remembers is their final game at Districts against North Platte. “We knew that we could come back and we could beat them,” Katelyn Foutz said, “and we played really well against them.” The Links had a lead with about twelve minutes left in the game when North Platte scored two goals, making the final score 2-1, a vast improvement over North Platte’s last win against them in which the final score was 6-0. And for Johnson, it’s not really about winning in any case.
“I’m just proud of all the kids’ effort… I guess everybody wants to win, but I think hard work and the kids’ commitment makes up for that. We just wanted to improve from last year,” Johnson said.
Improvement is a running theme with these players, and Johnson says that their biggest goal is just to improve every year. Even though the team is saying goodbye to five seniors this year who have contributed to the team continuously over four years, the team still has a ton of potential. “I think we’re really growing and the next few seasons are going to be great for Lincoln High,” said Katelyn Foutz. And with a crop of returning players ready to devote themselves to this game, the Links have the entire world at their cleats.