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PRC girls soccer looking to continue competing

The girls soccer program at Pearl River Central High School has had its up and downs during recent seasons.

Head Coach Joe Weems took the helm of the team just a few years ago, and after not having won five games in multiple years the team made it to the second round of the playoffs in Weems’ first year coaching them.

However, last season there was a bit of a drop off with the team performing well against district opponents, but struggling outside of district.

“Their record wasn’t as good, but they still competed and the fire is still there,” Weems said.

Inexperience has been a major factor in the highs and lows of the team, and that will continue again this upcoming season after the squad graduated some key players.

“The girls should be a little better as far as who we’re bringing back, but we’re losing some important pieces,” Weems said.

Weems said that some of his athletes have grown and matured, and he’s hoping they’ll be able to fill the void left by the outgoing seniors.

“It’s going to be a challenging situation, but I’m trying to look at it from a learning perspective,” Weems said.

Another challenge for the program is the lack of involvement by players in select clubs located mostly on the coast.

The higher level of play, and year-round nature of the organizations, means that certain high school teams can field players who are polished and experienced.

“The enormous amount of travel soccer on the coast is incredible and you have a lot of those high school teams who sit select players,” Weems said.

“But that’s not an excuse, we have to catch up and do the best we can.”

Weems said the program does more with less, but that he doesn’t let his players use that as an excuse.

“It’s a pride thing for us, because we don’t have that much,” Weems said.

Those limitations haven’t kept the program down with both the boys and girls teams performing well in district games last season.

The formation the girls ‘team uses is a 4-5-1.

This type of set up is used to bog down opponents in the midfield, and then play long balls over the top on the counterattack.

This formation has yielded results for the team the past couple of years, and Weems said the players’ familiarity with the system is a key reason for sticking with it.

“It’ll be a subtle change if any, because we have enough coming back that they’ll be comfortable in it,” Weems said. Weems is still trying to mold the culture of the girls program to his liking.However, he’s seen progress and hopes that the next few years continue that positive trend.

“When you’ve done something one way and not had success it takes a couple years to change something,” Weems said.

Even with those challenges the expectations remain the same.

“Expectations are playoffs, any lower than that and we’re doing a disservice to the kids and the program,” Weems said. “These kids are not incapable, they’re young and green, but if they want it bad enough they can make it happen.”

Weems holds his players accountable, but at the same time he understands that at their age soccer will come second behind other life events.

“I want the spark, the fire, but I want to see they have their emotions, and that they know how to control them,” Weems said.

“Soccer is important, but it’s not that important.”