The perks of patience

Shepard (#5 in white) looks to find a teammate as she clears the defensive end. Photo courtesy of Brooke Shepard and the Shepard Family. Used with permission

BY RYAN SCAFURI

Sometimes the payoff for a long time of team building and craft perfection can be incredibly frustrating. In other cases it can cause a team to question if what they are doing is really going to get them to where they desire in the end. Maybe they never will. But for four year varsity player and team captain Brooke Shepard and the Canton Warriors Girls Soccer team, the payoff would eventually reach them. It wasn’t just a mere state tournament berth or a winning season. No it was much bigger. A school record. Never before in the history of Girls Soccer at Canton High had a team ever reached the ten win plateau. Until the record setting 2018 fall campaign.

In her three previous years at the varsity level, Shepard and her teammates struggled to find consistent greatness. Flashes of brilliance would show, no question. Absolute routs as they flew past their competition would happen. But flashes have to stick to mean something. That was the biggest change for this season, according to Shepard. “We just had built up a lot of team chemistry. A lot of returning players and players that knew how to play together,” Shepard said. The chemistry payed off, and the team was off to states.

Under third year coach Alexandra Uscilla, Shepard was named a captain for the second time in her career. Already a team leader, Shepard and her fellow captains looked to make up for the loss of two graduated seniors. Though the senior loss was small, it was in no way insignificant. The graduation of their goalkeeper meant a new netminder between the sticks. The importance of being a central defender would take on an even more important role than it had in the past.

The saying goes that records are made to be broken. However, for a team that hasn’t come close to that record in a while, improvement needs to be looked at marginally. Somebody forgot to tell the Canton Girls that. When speaking of the success and incredible improvement they saw, Shepard noted, “We knew we were capable of doing more and definitely expected to go to states, but this was a bit of a shock.” Shocking or not, history had been made, and more importantly for the seniors, they were finally going to get an invitation to the dance. The State Tournament.

However, all seasons must come to an end, and unfortunately for the record setting Canton Girls team, it would not end in them hoisting the plaque labeling them state champions. A heartbreaker against Portland which saw them fall 5-2 on enemy soil would end their title bid. But Shepard and her fellow seniors have left the state of Canton Girls Soccer in a great place with a record setting season that saw Shepard rewarded by being named as an All-State defender. And so long as the chemistry continues to strengthen, so to should the record of the teams to follow.