With an Ocean League title and home-field secured, Santa Monica High School’s girls soccer team is preparing to kick off the upcoming CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs this Thursday against Thousand Oaks — and the Vikings are confident they have what it takes to make a run at the championship this year.
Samohi currently sits undefeated in its last 11 matchups as it has claimed recent victories against Culver City, Beverly Hills and Palisades Charter High School.
“We’re already a step further than we were last year,” Coach Jimmy Chapman said as he described last season’s campaign, which ended in heartbreak after an overtime loss in the wildcard round of the CIF championships. “We built on that and adopted the motto: ‘Embrace the struggle. Focus on the goal,’” which is derived from a military expression.
“When everything is going great, then everybody is happy but it’s those moments of struggle when you see the character of the team,” Chapman said. “We didn’t want to run from those moments this season. Instead, we were able to own them and say, ‘This is the grind. This is what we need to do to get better and improve,’ and I think we’re seeing the results of that now.”
Samohi quickly tallied four losses early in the season but a mid-December win against Palos Verdes was lauded by the team as the game that turned the season around.
“It was a rough start, said Samalah Seldon, a senior on the team, “but after practicing and practicing we glued closer together and the chemistry clicked.”
Seldon’s fellow teammates agreed as they discussed how the team has grown closer throughout the year and the impact the added chemistry has had on their overall record.
“I remember there was a scrimmage in the beginning of the season and we just played so bad that game. It was really disappointing and I remember coach gave us an ‘I’m not mad. I’m disappointed’ speech,” said sophomore Jasmin Aldana. “I think that really affected all of us because we were really disappointed in ourselves but, at the same time, I think that’s when you saw a little bit more spark come into our game.”
“We really pulled it together as teammates and with our hard work,” defender Bria Stocker added. “And I think that teamwork really helped us connect more on the field in terms of when to pass when to keep pushing and things like that.”
Having won four league championships in a row from 2014-2017, Samohi hopes to add another banner to its tally this year but it must first beat Thousand Oaks in Thursday’s contest, which begins at 3:30 p.m. at Samohi.
“We’re paying attention to details — to the small things. And that makes a big difference in the long-run,” Chapman said.
“This is our year,” junior London Wilkes added. “There’s no doubt in our minds.”