The Lake girls soccer team is poised to capture its first Federal League title. First, the Blue Streaks have to get past GlenOak.
Fans at GlenOak soccer stadium Wednesday will witness one of the world’s rare occurrences. No, it won’t be a solar eclipse, locusts hatching, or a volcano spewing lava.
For 19 of the past 20 years, the Jackson Polar Bears have won the Federal League girl’s soccer title. But Jackson’s 1-1 draw with Lake and a 1-0 loss to GlenOak allows the Blue Streaks and Eagles the chance at the Federal League championship.
Lake will enter Wednesday’s match with a 4-0-1 league mark, while GlenOak enters at 3-1-0.
A Lake win or draw would secure the title outright. If GlenOak wins, the Eagles must also beat or draw with Boardman to secure at least a piece of the title.
Blue Streaks’ senior captain Nicole Vercuski said that having the chance to win the school’s first girls soccer title will be a huge motivating force.
“I am so excited for the match that I can’t stop thinking about it,” Vercuski said. “The team is made up of mostly seniors and we all want to go out with the legacy of having that first championship. We all want to play well.”
Senior Rachel Bernardo admits there’s some pressure in knowing that the team could the first league title. Lake, however, is taking that pressure in stride.
“We are all nervous, but all the captains have stressed to the team to stay calm and not get ahead of ourselves,” Bernardo said. Concerning the GlenOak showdown, “I am pumped. Most of this team has played together since we were nine-years-old, and we couldn’t be happier that we have the opportunity to finish this together.”
Beating GlenOak will require that Lake step-up its offensive intensity.
“The girls have had some great chances to score throughout the year, but have struggled to finish them,” Lake head coach Les Drinkwater said. “That ends up making the matches closer than they should be, and forces a lot of draws.”
Lake also dealt with injuries throughout the year, but some on-field position switching has alleviated possible problems and, ironically, strengthened the defense.
“Midfielder Emily Bonnette’s efforts have been such a plus, especially when we didn’t think we would have her around at the beginning of the season due to injury,” Drinkwater said. “And Bernardo has played several positions to avoid the pounding she gets as a midfielder. We have only allowed three Federal League goals this season and have played against some really good goalkeepers. The girls have endured a lot, so they are ready to finish the job.”
Drinkwater and his staff know what they are up against with a GlenOak team that has been up and down this year.
Page 2 of 2 - “They have a great goalkeeper, but we have some great speedsters that can exploit the outside attack,” Drinkwater said. “The girls just have to relax, have fun and finish their shots. The rest will take care of itself.”
GlenOak has come close to winning the title before.The Eagles were runners-up 1994 and 2002).
Lake, meanwhile, has had several shots at the title, too. The Blue Streaks finished as runners-up in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2006 and 2011.
This year, though, looks good for Lake.
“If the girls are prepared and play hard, what happens, happens,” Drinkwater said.
Bernardo admits that winning will require the support of Lake fans. Her hope is that GlenOak stadium is rocking in support of Lake on Wednesday.
“We don’t care how you get there,” Bernardo said. “Walk, carpool , whatever! Just be there Wednesday night, because we need your support and we want to share this opportunity with you.”