Remember their name–Girls win 4th straight soccer championship
June 2, 2011
This article first appeared in early November
Beat ‘Dice 1-0. Boys lose close one to Dragons, 3-2.
The Schenley girls soccer team beat Allderdice on Monday night 1-0 to capture its 4th consecutive city championship. Leeza Tokarksi scored the winning goal—her 34th of the year—and goalie Nubia Williams got her second consecutive shutout. While four straight championships is an amazing feat, this year’s team had to deal with a lot of diversions that ordinarily would sidetrack most teams.
Any winning team, indeed, any achieving team has a story to tell. They’ll tell you about the commitment and the incredible effort. They’ll tell you about the selection of goals and the commitment each player made to the team. And where these ideas are concerned, the Schenley Lady Spartan soccer team is nothing out of the ordinary.
But looking deeper, you begin to see that this particular team had to overcome a great many obstacles to even be competitive, let alone a city champion. A recent round-table discussion asked players to evaluate the season, the school, the team and the memories.
And to this group of girls, you quickly understand that it’s all about “team”.
Q: Describe the earliest part of the season. Did you know you were going to be this good?
Sweeper Samantha Gregory: We really didn’t think we’d do that well. We had to contend with a lot of cliques. You had kids from Schenley, from Obama, from Sci Tech all on one team. We lost a lot of seniors.
Center Mid-fielder Leeza Tokarski: We had so many new people that we spent a great deal of time on team building early on, and it really paid off. I mean, we spent time working on a farm in Ohio together to build team chemistry, and it worked.
Forward Natalie Sorce: Yeah, and I got kicked by a horse.
Goalie Nubia Williams: I give the coaches a lot of credit for bringing this all together. We really bonded. We all had to adopt a freshman and from meeting these newer kids, we met their friends, too.
Samantha Gregory: Coach Shevitz gave a lot of inspirational talks and brought us closer. We all had secret buddies, too. That helped.
Center Mid-Fielder Tess Drudy—And the younger kids saw how serious about the game we all were.
Samantha Gregory: The first game against Allderdice showed them the intensity we all had.
Nubia Williams: And the practices really set the tone too. Once we were on the field, we worked hard.
Forward Jonquil Schaller-Once we stepped on the field, we were all Schenley soccer.
Q: So you embark on your season. You play a lot of games out of the city league…against some powerful WPIAL teams. What’s your feeling in those games?
Leeza Tokarski: They’re just not as important, really.
Samantha Gregory: But we don’t like losing.
Tess Drudy—I think those kinds of games make us better.
Natalie Sorce—I think you become a lot more secure in your knowledge and skills.
Defender Angela Perfetti—Against those types of teams, you have to push yourself.
Tess Drudy—You learn to lift each other up in tough games, and not attack each other.
Jonquil Schaller—I think a lot of schools underestimate us because we’re in the city league. We want to open some eyes.
Q: Tell me about the move from one building to another after your freshman year. The state of things and how it translates on the soccer field?
Jonquil Schaller—We have been through so much, and now we’re playing for our name. We don’t want anyone to forget who we are. I think because of all these changes, it truly drives our desire to win. We always feel like we’re the underdog, like people have already written us off and forgotten us.
Leeza Tokarski—Other schools don’t feel threatened by us.
Samantha Gregory—There is that power of the Allderdice name, but not ours…I’m not sure why. It’s sad that we’re a team but as a school, we’re all separated.
Jonquil Schaller—The high school experience seems to be incomplete.
Tess Drudy—I think all of these changes and obstacles have made us want it so much more.
Angela Perfetti—And that’s trickled down to the freshmen, too.
Natalie Sorce—It gives us so much more drive to come out on top.
Leeza Tokarski—I think some schools look at us like a ‘no name’. It’s a lack of respect thing.
Q: How have your coaches helped during this year of change?
Leeza Tokarski—I think Coach Shevitz knows how to bring teams together. He has us playing for one goal.
Jonquil Schaller—He always pushes us. And he brings us together constantly.
Natalie Sorce—He gets us fired up. He can make our suicides comparable to winning the championship. ‘Just a little more…’
Samantha Gregory—I thought his soccer circle was stupid in the beginning. Now, it’s so a part of us. It really gets the adrenaline going.
Tess Drudy—He’s observant. He moved people based on abilities.
Angela Perfetti—It took longer to move kids into gaps. We had a lot of new kids.
Samantha Gregory—He realized that we needed to make changes.
Nubia Williams—(Assistant Coach) Emily Guntner taught me a lot. She taught me different styles of playing goalie and I became better for it.
Samantha Gregory—Yeah, she really clicked with us.
Angela Perfetti—She’s often like a mediator between us and Coach Shevitz.
Q: Nubia, explain your background as a goalie.
Nubia Williams—I really couldn’t do anything else. I didn’t know much about soccer. I had no skills on my feet. I became confident over time and this team really pumps me up.
Leeza Tokarski—She really grew up. We didn’t have a goalie.
Q: Talk about yourselves on the field and your roles.
Leeza Tokarski—I try to connect the action from the defense to the forwards. But I take the opportunities if they are there.
Samantha Gregory—Leeza zig zags all over the field. A lot of cuts. No straight lines.
Tess Drudy—I try to hold down the center of the field.
Jonquil Schaller—I’m really thankful that Natalie moved to offense. I’ve really benefited. There’s a lot more speed now.
Natalie Sorce—We have a stronger ‘D’ now. We love to connect with each other out there.
Samantha Gregory—I like to play a physical style on defense.
Jonquil Schaller—She will knock you down. She’s the toughest defender in the league.
Q: What’s it like to play in the city championship?
Samantha Gregory: It’s exciting to play under the lights.
Tess Drudy—It’s so satisfying when you get the goal, because they are so hard to get.
Jonquil Schaller—The fans really inspire you. And they come out for this game.
Angela Perfetti—It’s not just another game. Everyone shares in the feeling.
Leeza Tokarski—Hearing them on a breakaway really fires you up.
Q: So, was it a satisfying year?
Daniela Ruiz-Feingold, Forward: When I started, I wasn’t too experienced. I had a lot of fun, even though I almost fainted a couple of times early on. It took a while to get used to all the running.
An exchange student from Brazil, Forward Talita Murakami was used to playing 5 on 5 soccer on gym floors. This was a new experience, even for a girl from Brazil, where soccer is the national sport. Her feeling was simple. “I had a lot of fun.”
Four straight championships. We don’t think anyone will forget their name.