After a subpar performance last season, the Notre Dame (Belmont) girls’ soccer team is off to a strong start behind young talent and a jolt of chemistry last year’s team was missing.
“They’re a younger, fresher team that has more experience, more camaraderie,” Notre Dame coach Tim Nixon said. “The girls are focusing on a bond with each other.”
That talent and bond was infused with the addition of freshmen Taylor Bock and Jessica Parque, much to the surprise of the fifth-year coach Nixon.
“It was a shot in the arm,” he said. “There were some talented girls that came to camp this summer. Bock has been a tremendous help in our midfield.”
Notre Dame (3-2-1) started West Catholic Athletic League play 0-3 last season, but is more confident heading into league this year with a head of steam.
“We’ve played some good teams and beat them,” Nixon said. “Now things are getting back together. It’ll be a good season.”
The early season success has also relieved pressure off the seniors who have not had this success at the varsity level.
“It’s a tremendous relief [for the seniors]. They’re playing in a more relaxed environment,” Nixon said.
Nixon described his team’s relationship as a sisterhood, something the team had been missing recently.
“They have people they can rely on, not just on the field, but off the field,” he said.
The Tigers dropped their first WCAL game against Mitty 8-1 last Saturday, but have been able to quickly refocus and get back to their winning ways.
“We’re playing a very simple game of soccer, not anything too technical,” Nixon said.
The Tigers have been game planning for each team individually and focusing on their transition from attacking to defending.
“[I] don’t think it’s something a lot of coaches focus on,” Nixon said of that transition. “They’re taking one game at a time, not looking into the future.”
“It’s water off the duck’s back. We’ve forgotten about [the Mitty loss].”
Notre Dame would love to return to the Central Coast Section playoffs, but knows it is going to be an uphill climb.
“First goal is to have a stepping stone for next year,” Nixon said. “We’d love to get into CCS, but must get to .500 at least.”
The Tigers’ next three WCAL games are on the road, and they will not play a home league game until Jan. 14.
Notre Dame last made a CCS appearance in 2009, making it to the semifinals of the Division III playoffs.