FEDERALSBURG — Last week’s shutout victory in the season finale was bittersweet for coach Rachael Gugasian and the nine seniors on Kent County High School’s girls soccer team, who began their journey together in the fall of 2017.
The Trojans (7-4) booted their hosts from Colonel Richardson, 2-0, to finish on the plus side of .500 — their first winning season since the 6-4-3 campaign of 2015.
“The team chemistry this year far surpassed any other. They were able to communicate and work together extremely well, on and off the field,” Gugasian wrote in an email to the Kent County News.
Thirteen players contributed to the scoring, and there were multiple scorers in all but one of the victories.
“This tells me as a whole we are working together with a purpose and we have a group of girls that are playing to truly do what’s best for the team,” Gugasian said in the email. “I am proud of how the girls have integrated all these qualities into the program and know this will continue into next year.”
The Trojans capped their outstanding season with a 2-0 victory April 14 at Colonel Richardson, sweeping the three-match series by a combined score of 8-1.
Junior striker/midfielder Sydney Usilton netted both goals.
What proved to be the game-winner was scored in the 20th minute when Usilton crossed the ball from the left side into the far right corner.
The insurance goal also was scored in the first half, Usilton finishing a pass from Alexandra Miller.
Alana Fithian Wilson (10 saves) went the distance in between the pipes for the Trojans.
Gugasian said outside defensive backs Madisyn Yiannakis and Gracie Walters did a super job of helping the Trojans maintain possession by winning 50-50 balls and starting the counterattack.
Kent finished with 14 shots.
This season was unlike any other “fall” season, with practices beginning in a bitter cold February and matches played in March and April.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, Kent played a North Bayside Conference-only schedule and the number of spectators was limited.
Kent defeated all the similarly small 1A schools; its losses were to larger Class 2A opponents, including Queen Anne’s, Kent island and Easton back-to-back-to-back.
Six of the Trojans’ wins were by shutout. The only goal they gave up in a win was at Colonel Richardson in the 4-1 opener on March 5.
“Consistently winning against all the 1A schools and playing well against most of the 2A schools shows that all of our hard work has paid off,” Gugasian said in the email.
“I think we were really able to reflect as a team after each game (even the ones we won) and decide what we could do better and this made us set goals and work even harder to achieve them.”
Gugasian, who is a special education teacher at Galena Elementary School, became coach in the fall of 2017.
Her first roster of 22 included 12 freshmen. Nine of them stayed with the program all four years. They are, listed alphabetically: Marlee Berghaus, Molly Grafton, Olivia Jones, Maddy Kendall, Cecilia Llamas, Leah Maier, Megan Speakman, Emma Walters and Madison Yiannakis.
“They have gone through this journey with me and I am so thrilled that we were able to share one last season together,” Gugasian said. “I am so lucky to have watched them grow as students, athletes and individuals over these past few years.”
The end-of-season team award winners are: Kendall, most valuable player; Berghaus, outstanding sportsman; and Coach’s Choice, Emma Walters.