Lady Spartans finish strong as team

Dan Karpiel
The Surveyor

It is through the hardest of times the strongest of bonds are built. The 2016 Berthoud High School girls soccer team went through their fair share of hard times this year. And it was not hard times on the pitch – where the Lady Spartans won four of their final five matches, in the span of six days nonetheless – but rather being kept from the pitch, due to the incessant weather-related delays, postponements and cancellations.

According to Head Coach Corbett Leatherwood, it was Berthoud’s “as one” mentality – that came complete with their own team cheer – that kept the team together through the season.

“Going two weeks between games because of blizzards didn’t really help motivation,” said Leatherwood. “The girls really supported each other and kept each other’s spirits up during the delays and the lulls. It was quite frustrating, of course, but the girls maintained a great attitude, which helped them gain momentum as the season went by.”

Faced with circumstances outside their control, Berthoud turned inward, to one another, living the final weeks of the season “as one” with a team-stated goal to “finish strong.” And finish strongly they did. Berthoud won four of their final five matches, four of which came against Tri-Valley Conference (TVC) opponents, by a combined score of 27-4.

Senior McKayla Workman, who suffered a torn ACL her sophomore year and struggled as a junior, closed out her high school soccer career by scoring 14 points (six goals, two assists), exemplifying the finish-strong mantra to the letter.

“[Workman] is great at controlling the middle and taking well-placed shots from distance at the edge of the finishing third of the field,” Leatherwood explained of his team’s leading scorer.

Hannah Stippich, who Leatherwood said, “has an incredible shot from the wing distance,” also scored six goals and contributed two assists in Berthoud’s final four games to finish second on the team to Workman and Jade Glasser with 25 points. Glasser (28 points) and sophomore Kyley Leatherwood joined Workman and Stippich as Lady Spartans who crossed the 20-point-scored threshold this season, and it was that dispersal of talents up and down the roster that Coach Leatherwood believes helped make the team so effective down the stretch.

Additionally, much of the Lady Spartans roster is composed of players who have played together since their childhood and are close off the field.

“That chemistry allowed for the solid distribution of the ball and shots, which in turn allowed multiple girls to break the double-digit point mark, rather than just having one superstar, per se,” said Leatherwood. “This season was truly a family effort.”

It was not just on offense where the Lady Spartans finished strongly, but their defense, and especially the efforts of goalkeeper Hayley Leatherwood. The senior finished the season with 157 saves, by far the best mark in the TVC, and allowed only four goals (to 30 saves) in her last four games in-net. Despite the fact her father, Coach Leatherwood, actually tried to talk her out of playing keeper, Hayley “just loves it.” Despite not being tall and lanky as most keepers are, she relies on her stellar hand-eye coordination, willingness to jump into the middle of the action, and what appears to be a sixth sense for the highly demanding position.

Coach Leatherwood, as a former high school and collegiate athlete himself, understands his job as a coach is more about coaching the fundamentals and winning matches but also giving young people the life lessons that aide them in all of their life’s endeavors. He points particularly to his 12-girl senior class as an example of what can be learned in the world of sports.

 

“We all need to push ourselves to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than the day before,” explained Leatherwood. “These seniors leave a legacy of hard work, encouragement, leadership, and team bonding that I hope helps set a foundation of excellence for the girls. Not so much about the record, but about perfect effort.

“There are many factors that are outside of our control that can influence the final score,” he added. “But it is what is on the inside that determines ultimate victory. I believe this senior class set a brilliant example of class and character for those who follow.”