WAGS opening weekend: Thunder SC Extreme off to good start in U-15 Div. 2
By Roger Gonzalez and Charles Boehm
It’s one of the perennial signals that the long winter is finally, officially over for the Washington, D.C. region’s soccer community: WAGS is back.
The Washington Area Girls Soccer League kicked off its spring 2012 season over the weekend, with some 100 games taking place across the area on Saturday and Sunday. While many teams have yet to get underway, some have already played two matches thanks to opening-weekend doubleheaders, one of which is Thunder Soccer Club Extreme, an Under-15 girls team from Howard County, Md. which climbed up to WAGS U-15 Division 2 for the spring after a 6-2-1 record and second-place finish in Division 3 last fall.
The squad had to play two strong opponents without the help of several important players due to a few girls are away on vacation, two sidelined by concussions and other injuries, but still managed to register two victories to jump to the top of the Division 2 standings with six points. The team downed FPYC Wildcats Blue 1-0 on Saturday, then doubled up Bethesda FSV 2-0 on Sunday despite having barely enough players to field a starting 11.
“A lot of girls had to step up,” coach Patrick Corbett told The Soccer Wire on Tuesday. “We only had one or two subs and they were hurt.
“We were playing strong teams. It was a good start against two of the better teams in the division…I was very happy with them.”
Thunder Extreme have taken great inspiration from Rachel Nichols, a well-loved member of the team who was diagnosed with lymphoma barely six months ago. Nichols endured a winter of chemotherapy and other painful effects of her treatment regimen, yet somehow found the will to get back in uniform for opening weekend, despite Corbett’s original plan to work her back into game action sometime in May.
Nichols, a versatile Glenelg High School freshman who can contribute in both defense and midfield, stepped up in her teammates’ time of need – sporting a shaved head and all – and played the majority of the weekend.
“It’s been a huge lift to the team,” the coach said, who simply can’t fathom how she has managed to return to the sport so quickly. “Seeing her and what she has done, it makes it impossible for the girls to quit.”
Corbett said he’d planned to put Nichols on for about five minutes, but her energy levels – and Thunder Extreme’s shorthandedness – prompted him to play her far more.
The coach believes her presence has certainly lifted the spirits of the players, allowing for all-around production alongside a dear teammate who has shown strength during a trying time.
“We are scoring goals and getting shutouts,” Corbett said. “It’s coming from all around.”
While the defense performed well all weekend long, earning two
shutouts, the team’s attack was keyed by twin strikers Lauren and Tiffany Woods. The duo combined to bag all three goals over the two matches.
“They find each other,” the coach said. “They work very well together. They have great chemistry together.”
Thunder Extreme’s strong start may have something to do with Corbett’s winter training sessions, which were highlighted by two demanding scrimmages against the Maryland Capitals, a new adult team which is set to begin play in the pro-am Women’s Premier Soccer League later this year.
The strong start to the season prompted Corbett to give his girls this week off for spring break, though the team will look to keep things going when they begin what they hope will be a deep run in the Maryland State Cup on April 21.
Thunder Extreme’s WAGS calendar resumes the following day. The league has lived up to expectations thus far and Corbett believes it will continue to challenge his players, most of whom claim to aspire to a college career in their future.
“The competition has been good,” Corbett said. “No game is easy. The girls have to be consistent. I kind of drilled that into them with a lot of tough scrimmages over the winter. WAGS has given us good competition for the kids to continue to develop.”