MSD girls varsity soccer beats Pembroke Pines Charter and Fort Lauderdale in season-opening games

Reece Gary and David Lopez

Forward Mia Engelbart (10) celebrates scoring a goal with her teammates. This was one of her two goals in the Eagles' match-up against the Flying L's. Photo by Theron Piccininni
Forward Mia Engelbart (10) celebrates scoring a goal with her teammates. This was one of her two goals in the Eagles’ match-up against the Flying L’s. Photo by Theron Piccininni

On Monday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m., the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School women’s varsity soccer team faced the Pembroke Pines Charter High School Jaguars in their first match of the season. The game was held at Cumber Stadium at MSD and was the beginning of an anticipated eight-game season.

After many feared that sports would be canceled this year, it was a relief for coaches and players in the soccer program to be given another season of games. The safety protocols for the soccer season requires social distancing protocols such as masks that have to be worn by athletes and fans. 

As with the standards of previous years, the MSD women’s varsity soccer team has high expectations for the team’s success. After many years of being a highly competitive and successful team in the district, the players and coaches were still looking forward to another chance at winning competitions in the state.

The game began, neither team having much of an advantage over the other early on. 

The Jaguars pressed the Eagles’ defense with several shots but were not able to break through, as both sides were looking to find a clear chance at a goal. 

The Eagles kept the ball for a significant portion of the first half and were able to get in front of the goal, where midfielder Kendall Slack (18) was fouled in the penalty box. A penalty kick was awarded to the Eagles, and Slack scored the shot, putting MSD at a 1-0 lead before halftime.
Midfielder Kendall Slack (18) scores a penalty shot as the only goal of the Eagles’ win against Pembroke Pines Charter High School. Gif by David Lopez

Through the second half of the game, the Eagles’ defenders all stood out, deflecting Pines Charter’s chances to score.

The Eagles did not look to score and kept many players back to eliminate the risk of a change in possession.

Even with many players on the women’s varsity team being brand new, the Lady Eagles had a strong performance.

Defender Calista McCausland (6) helped lead the group, which kept the Jaguars from scoring a single goal.

“Everybody was really excited to get back out there and get stuck in. Our energy was great, and we were really quick to make tackles and hold the lead,” McCausland said.

The win against the strong Pines Charter team brought the Eagles to a record of 1-0.

The following game began on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 5 p.m., where the Eagles faced the Fort Lauderdale High School Flyings L’s on home turf.

After their previous game, the Eagles were looking to keep their momentum to secure a second victory. With this mindset, they played tough from the start in order to dominate.

Forward Emily Burke (14) dribbles towards the opposing goal, putting pressure on the defending Flying L's. Photo by Sophia Goodman
Forward Emily Burke (14) dribbles towards the opposing goal, putting pressure on the defending Flying L’s. Photo by Sophia Goodman

The first half started out as a back-and-forth brawl between the two teams, but that quickly ended when the Eagles took the upper hand and took an outstanding lead. 

The first goal was struck by forward Mia Engelbart (10) who snuck past defenders to score. Bringing the Eagles to an early lead, Engelbart was a major threat to the Flying L’s throughout the game.
Forward Mia Engelbart (10) kicks the ball towards the upper left corner of the goal to give the Eagles an early 1-0 lead against the Flying L’s. Gif by Reece Gary

Engelbart proved to be a key player for the Eagles, as she soon scored the second goal of the game. This gave the Eagles a commanding 2-0 lead.
Forward Mia Engelbart (10) slides past the Flying L’s, including the keeper, to score the second goal for the Eagles. Gif by Reece Gary

“There’s always room for improvement, but I’m very happy with my game,” Engelbart said.

The Eagles strived off of the momentum from their lead and continued to play strong. This included two more goals in the first half, including a goal by forward Lily Conn (5). 

“We worked really hard, and we worked as a team to connect and pass well,” Conn said.  

With a 4-0 lead at halftime, the Eagles were heading towards a great victory. 

The second half quickly began with another MSD goal. 

The team then pushed forward into the last minutes of the game, in which they scored again to extend their lead to 6-0. They held this lead for the final minutes of the game and pulled away with a resounding win. 

As pointed out by Conn, the team’s strong connection did not go unnoticed, and their defense and passing led to their success. An important part of this connection was forward Layla Segelnick (15), who contributed with two assists during the game. 

“We had a lot of team communication, so we were able to win,” Segelnick said. “We had to [work] as a unit.” 

The Eagles’ triumph over the Flying L’s brought their record to an undefeated 2-0, and they set the bar for the rest of the season. 

The Lady Eagles will play next against the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Raiders on Friday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m.