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Lady Vipers lament end of team, look forward to Titans, Warriors next year

By jhornberg
March 21, 2010 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2010 at 10:21 p.m.


SOCCER BI-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS

Lady Vipers vs. San Antonio Taft

Tuesday, 6 p.m. at Dub Farris Stadium, San Antonio

Vipers vs. San Antonio Taft

Tuesday, 7 p.m., at Memorial Stadium

The Memorial Lady Vipers practiced late last week and Monday prepping for the first round of the playoffs after securing a playoff birth with a 2-1 win in the final regular-season game against San Antonio East Central.

But the team faces the fact that their bi-district game against San Antonio Taft at Dub Farris Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m. could be the last in Lady Viper history. Many of the girls playing the current team have played together since before they arrived at Memorial, and the thought of suddenly playing against each other weighs on them and their coaches.

"It's going to be very weird," said Lady Vipers coach Denys McCarter. "It's going to be hard seeing them across the field, because we've been through so much together and we've watched them grow up.

"It's going to be a whole new environment and a whole new idea."

Assistant coach Misty Boening, who has worked with McCarter for five years and will take over coaching duties at Victoria East next year, said the two teams will be friendly rivals, and that the players are mature enough to remain friends off the field.

"We're taking something that we worked so hard on building, and splitting it in half," she said. "But at the same time, it's exciting because now we get to build new traditions, and that's going to be amazing in itself being at a new school, a new team, new everything."

For junior Taylor Blackman, there are mixed emotions. She said playing next season for a new team is going to be a new start for her and her teammates, but that it will be sad knowing that she won't be on the same team as all of the girls she's played with since before high school.

"Playing against some of the people I've played with my whole high school life, it's going to be kind of different," she said. "It's going to be easy because we know what to expect from each other, but we also need to learn that we are going to be across the field from each other."

Senior captain Courtney Day said the splitting of the team will add a new dimension to the friendships formed on the Lady Vipers team.

"They all are friends, and now they are going to be quote-unquote arch-nemeses, because there will be the East and West rivalry," she said. "But I definitely think it will be fun for all of them, and it will definitely be hard to choose which one to cheer for."

Day said she wants this final Lady Vipers team to go out playing well, and said she feels this team has more to show.

"I have a lot to lead my team to, and I just want to show our community that we're going to leave with the last strike," Day said. "I'm really excited to show what we have."

Blackman said a lot of their opponents have discounted their ability, and their goal before Friday's game was to show that they are good enough to go far into the playoffs.

"There's a lot of people that kind of talk down about us, and we want to show that we can do this and we know we can, and we will," Blackman said before Friday's game.

The experience level is split down the middle, McCarter said, with about half of next year's seniors going each to East and West. But trying to produce two teams out of one is going to present some challenges, she said.

"It will be hard any time you rebuild because again we'll be back to being young," McCarter said. "So many of them will have gained some varsity experience that it will just transfer over to being a Warrior or a Titan."

The plan next season, Boening said, will be to approach the potential rivalry between East and West as just another game, including how her team approaches it next season.

"We're going to work hard every day, we're going to go through the motions, we're going to look at basic skills, we're going to look at conditioning," Boening said. "I'm not going to approach the game against West any differently than I would approach any of our other opponents because they are going to be another team against us during that game.

"As long as I can get that mentality through to the girls, that they are just another opponent, they'll be friends after the game, hey, we'll move through, play our game and do what we know how to do."

For junior Kassandra Veliz, the splitting of the schools, and the team, presents a chance to form the same bonds with a new set of teammates with each of the new teams next season.

"We'll be around different people," she said. "We'll go strong as a team, and make another bond like the family we have now."

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