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  • Matt Ondesko

Competition breeds success

by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor

Photos: Geoff Schneider/Sports Union

No one ever wants to be handed a starting position based on what they did or did not do the year before. They want to come in earn the minutes, and prove to themselves, and the coaching staff, that they belong on the field.

That was the mindset entering this season for Lancaster High School junior soccer player Nevada Hahn. The junior was prepared to earn everything that was handed to her. As a sophomore, Hahn didn’t see the field much.

The team was loaded at the midfield position, and Hahn would only get her opportunity to showcase what she had in a reserve role. She is one of the many players that have come up together that have played since modified.

As she entered the condensed 2020 season, Hahn wanted to establish herself as a big time player on a team that has high expectations every season.

“For my junior year I would expect myself to obtain a starting position,” stated Hahn. “This past year I would only start if there was a problem or injury with one of the starters and this year. I would like to change that now that I am older and know what to expect from the coaches and the team.”

For her to earn her spot on the team, Hahn new she needed to work hard over the offseason. Due to the pandemic, a lot of things were cancelled during the spring and summer. Travel seasons were non existent as players had to fine different ways to get there work ion.

That included training by themselves, and getting people to work on their games with them at the park. Hahn wanted to improve her game, so she made sure she hit up her brother, and other friends, to workout together.

Hahn would plan the night before on what she wanted to work as she looked to improve her game for the upcoming season.

“Over this summer I have worked with my brother, his friends and my friends as a group at Westwood,” explained Hahn. “We would plan out the night before what we were going to do based on a list my coach had sent out of what to do to prepare for tryouts and a mix of our own teams drills. We did multiple sprints and agility drills too and would go up against my brothers friends who are four years older ,so we had to work much harder to be at their level. My team also had many free training sessions that anyone could go to and I went to all that I could make it to for extra practice.”

Practicing during a pandemic made things even more tougher as no one even knew if there was going to be season. There was so much uncertainty surrounding the fall season that it made it hard for players to concentrate on what they were doing.

Players spent more timing wondering if there was going to be a season than working on their games. It made staying focused that much harder. Earlier in the summer, it was said that the soccer season was going to be moved to March.

However, the season was only pushed back until late September. The season has been condensed as teams now play through the tough November weather. But, at least they are still playing.

“The uncertainty made me feel a little nervous, with all our preparations, training and getting ready and excited for the upcoming season,” stated Hahn. “It would have been very sad to see the season cancelled.”

Like many players these days, the offseason does really have an offseason. As soon as the high school season ends, players start training and playing of their travel teams. There are many travel teams to choose from in the Western New York area.

Many young ladies choose the WNY Flash. The Flash have the reputation of sending girls to college to play soccer. Not everyone, however, likes to play for the Flash.

Hahn has played for a few travel teams over the couple of season. She started with the Flash before leaving to play for Global Premier Soccer (GPS) before the folded. Now she plays for the Buffalo Rush, a new travel team in the area that is gaining recognition pretty quickly.

“Playing GPS (and now Buffalo Rush) outside of school has been helpful because in the off season of school soccer there are trainings, games and traveling with this team. It also keeps me in shape and prepares me for school soccer,” said Hahn. “I did however play for the Flash ECNL when I was 13 and did not have a good experience there. My family and I did not feel we were being treated right by the parents, teammates or coaches and moved on to GPS the next year. The team had lowered my confidence levels a little bit, and took me a few years to be where I am now and feeling good about the way I'm playing. There have been times I wanted to try to go back to the team for higher competition, but then I would remember my years there and did not want to risk a repeat of that lack of confidence at this point in my career.”

While she didn’t start last season, Hahn still was able to get playing time. Any playing time as an underclassman is important, and Hahn was able to get into games and feel out the competition. Being one of the taller players on the team, Hahn has been able to bring a different kind of physical play to a squad that had one of the smaller midfields in the league.

While the midfield is small in stature, they are big on heart. Lancaster boasts one of the toughest midfields in the league, and Hahn adds to that with her size and determination.

“Playing as a sophomore has prepared me for this upcoming year. This past year has taught me how I need to play against these other varsity teams, and what to expect from my teammates in situations, and how to read each of them on what they are going to do next  - so I can make the right play,” stated Hahn. “Being one of the taller girls in the midfield and having teammates around me who aren’t as tall I do not feel like I need to change my game that much. Maybe sometimes when I play a ball to them I have to remember not to add so much height because then they are not able to get to the ball as easily, but other than that I play the same way I would with any other teammate.”


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