Sunday, June 26, 2022

Pine Creek girls’ soccer leans on talent, camaraderie as postseason begins | High School Sports


Before the season started, Pine Creek girls’ soccer coach John Frederick had his players sit down and write a personal essay of sorts.

He told them to picture their end-of-the-year banquet. He asked: “What do you want your coaches to say about you? How do you want to be remembered? Do you want it to be about how many goals you scored, or do you want it to be about your character?”

It’s part of something called “personal growth Mondays.” The Eagles start their weeks by spending 15 minutes focusing on things outside of soccer. Sometimes they read testimonials from high-level coaches and athletes, and other times they discuss ways to serve their community. Frederick and his staff want the Eagles to be as good off the field as they are on it. And that is a high bar.

“This might be the most talented group I’ve ever coached,” Frederick said.

The Eagles have five seniors who will go on to play collegiate soccer, three of whom will do so at the Division I level.

Pine Creek is 14-1 going into the postseason, with the lone loss coming in overtime to Colorado’s No. 1 team in 5A, Valor Christian. The success of the squad comes from a rare combination of elite talent, camaraderie and accountability. And it didn’t take long for the Eagles to realize that they had something special.

For Tess McConnellogue, a defender who will play at Kansas State next year, that moment came during indoor soccer in November.

“We started to get super close and we were linking up passes,” she said. “We started to get a feel for how everyone plays.”

Despite having a senior-laden group, the Eagles weren’t all familiar with each other on the field. Some played together as kids and then went on to different club teams, while others spent time honing their skills outside of the high school scene.