ASHEBORO — Sports are loaded with numbers. In a large majority of the time, those numbers are a solid indication of how well a team is playing.
The number of goals, points and runs certainly can reflect team success: With the higher the number of goals, points and runs achieved, the greater the chance that team is having a successful season.
Goals, points and runs scored against a team can be another indicator on how well a team is doing, with a lower number translating to better success.
Unless you play for the Asheboro High School girls varsity soccer team. In that case, numbers are just numbers and figuring out what kind of success the team is enjoying by looking at the numbers would certainly indicate one thing while the total opposite is completely the truth.
For instance, the Blue Comets had scored just nine goals in six conference games heading into league action this week, allowing 10 in those eight games. Yet, the Blue Comets were an impressive 4-2 in Mid-Piedmont Conference action.
Then there’s the total number of goals scored for the season, which saw the Blue Comets being outscored by a 32-30 margin for the first 15 games of the campaign. Yet, once again, the Blue Comets have somehow turned those numbers into a 7-4-4 overall record heading into MPC action this week.
Numbers sometimes simply don’t tell the true story.
“It is a very big numbers drop from last year, but I think we're still working out some things,” said AHS senior Madison Luck, who plays in the middle for the Blue Comets. “We’re getting some more things going offensively and I think we're going to get there.”
Coming off a season in which AHS scored 71 goals and gave up 34 in going 16-5-2 in advancing to the third round of the 3-A state tournament, this year’s numbers are certainly different, but the success remains the same.
“We did lose some components from last year,” AHS fifth year head coach Emily Ramon said. “Madison (Arroyo) was definitely a scoring threat and we lost the whole center of the field except for Madison (Luck). I knew we were going to have to rebuild, but we had a very good core coming back.
“We had to change the way we played. Our style is different this year. We had to be more disciplined. We had to focus on keeping our defense organized and not making errors that could lead to things that are preventable, like not getting out of line on defense and letting them sneak behind us. Our accuracy on passes had to be better.”
With as many as four or five freshmen playing key roles in their first year of varsity action, many knew it would take time to adjust. But those freshmen have fit in well with the core of upperclassmen and that has helped produce a team that is becoming more confident as the season progresses.
“We are very young in that I start three or four freshmen, which is both a good thing and a challenge,” Roman said. “Not because they don’t have the skill because they do. The issue is experience. There is a big difference coming from middle school soccer and playing varsity. They are all adjusting well. And when you have a team that is mostly made of seniors and freshmen, getting that gell and connectedness can be difficult. It takes time.”
The Blue Comets started the season 3-2-4, quite an unusual record through nine games. But the schedule was purposely tougher this season. AHS dropped a 5-0 decision to Bishop McGuinness, which was 12-3 overall and undefeated in their conference, and AHS fell to East Davidson 5-1; ED is 11-2-1 and 8-1 in their league. AHS also played Northwood to a 3-3 tie.
“Part of the goals against is that I have us playing a stronger schedule this year,” Roman said. “Our schedule was a little light last year and you need to be playing better teams.”
There were also some other hurdles that had to be cleared.
“We had a bit of an issue with heart and drive at the beginning of the season,” Roman said. “When we got down two goals, everything seemed to fall apart. I feel that moving forward, the girls learned that you can’t stop playing until the final whistle blows. They showed that in the game against Ledford.”
The Blue Comes won a thrilling 2-1 double-overtime affair against Ledford on April 19.
Overall, the defense has been very good this year, holding opponents to one goal or less in seven games. The defense is led by senior Natasha Medersos, senior Samantha Goicochea, sophomore Karen Cox (who missed some time because of an injury) and junior Itzel Macias. Junior Carlisle Dozier has had a solid year in goal.
“We’ve been working on pressure cover and balance and being disciplined on how we play as a team instead of individuals,” Roman said of her defense. “The entire back line has to communicate well together. We still have some kinks to work out, but the communication is getting better.”
While last year’s offense was led by Arroyo, who tallied 30 goals, this year’s offense had to be spread around a lot more. Senior Tess Moody and freshman Jaira Arellano have scored nine times each and senior Natalie Flores, who has signed to play with Guilford, has seven goals and six assists.
“It’s a blessing and a curse not to have a major goal scorer,” Roman said. “We don’t have that one player where you can say, ‘here’s the ball, go score and it’s up to you.’ Our goals this year have been scored by everyone from defenders to midfielders.”
Moody, Flores and Luck are key members of the offense.
“Natalie and Tess are consistently contributing assists and goals and Madison Luck is my playmaker,” Roman said. “Anytime we have an offensive push, it’s usually because of her ball control in the center. She can be very dangerous. It doesn’t show in the stats because she often makes the play before the play.”
Flores said she had to make some adjustments from years past.
“I was super nervous coming into the season because we lost a lot of seniors which made up most of our defense and forwards,” Flores said. “I would say it was difficult changing positions for me from forward to left wing, but I found where I want to play. I love left wing.”
Of course, the three added the responsibilities of being a senior on a high school team. It was an adjustment, Moody said.
“I was just used to being a follower and looking up at the friends I have played with for years,” Moody said. “This is the first time I have been one of the top dogs. There's definitely a shift in my mindset having more responsibility.”
Roman said she has seen the growth of her team.
“We are creating chances and now we need to capitalize on those chances,” she said. I have the utmost confidence in my seniors and their ability to push and grow and challenge their teammates the rest of the year.”
The numbers may be hard to understand this season, but the adjustments, effort and hard work aren’t.