Three John Harris High School students are on a mission to field a girls soccer team in 2023.
Who’s with them?
Five girls this fall played on Harrisburg’s junior varsity team. And, if you haven’t heard, the boys’ varsity team had an exceptional year, most notably claiming Capital Division champions in the highly competitive Mid-Penn Conference.
Coach Paul Kornfeld turned the boys very diverse lineup into a group of contenders. He helped build the program on the back-end years before he showed up on the front end as the mighty Cougars’ leader.
The girls are hoping to find a similar leader to invest in them.
Freshman Dayana Diaz and Gisell Morales, and sophomore Fariana Diaz are ready to launch their recruiting campaign. Morales was a captain in her freshman year, so she’s already earned trust, as well as leadership experience.
“Right now, we’re currently playing with the guys to try to form a girls soccer team,” Morales said.
The trio said they played a few years before high school in the JT Dorsey leagues. They’ve been trying to encourage more girls to play, but their friends aren’t as courageous.
“I think because there’s guys, they think they’re more aggressive,” Morales said. “Now they’re scared to play.”
All three have a passion for the sport.
“I used to play when I was younger,” Morales said. “And, then COVID hit. So, I stopped playing. And then recently I just joined.”
The buzz is real, but the players are seeking a coach, Fariana said.
“For like the past maybe two years, me and my friends been trying to get girls, to encourage them to come play,” she said. “And, you know support them. Because they think their biggest challenge right now is like, their biggest struggle is learning. We’re trying to get them to understand, it’s OK to learn something new. And try to encourage them to play. Without a coach we can’t play. With our coach spreading the word, talking, that’s our only possible way. We need a coach.”
Harrisburg is in District 3 and would be included in the Mid-Penn Conference. It’s not the first time the school’s attempted to start-up a team. They had schedules for 2016 and 2017, but they didn’t finish out the season, according to a District 3 soccer chairman.
Assistant boys’ soccer coach Cole Goodman said there was an attempt to stir interest in previous years, but he feels that under the leadership of Morales, Dayana, and Fariana, next year is the year.
“The chances are very good, especially with the girls that we have,” he said of the girls fielding a team. “They’re competitive. They’re dedicated. They’re getting better and better every practice that we have. I’m very confident that we’ll have a girls’ team next year led by these three. They would be our leaders for that team.”
The girls just started to show up for practice, Dayana said.
“They told us that there was no Harrisburg girls’ team,” she said. “Most of the girls, they were scared. They’re scared to play with a different gender. And right now, we’re trying to encourage them to at least come to practice or watch. They don’t see that it’s not that bad and from there, we want a girls’ team.”
The girls said they are ready to hang up posters throughout the high school to create an interest.
“There are lots of girls in John Harris who are asking to play, but since the season’s almost over, some of the girls can’t,” Dayana said.
The message from all three: let your confidence show.
“I find a passion in soccer,” Morales said. “Playing again rekindled it. I believe that we can win. Obviously, we aren’t going to win them all. But I think we have the potential to win. You’re not going to be great at the first try. You need to come to practice consistently. And you’ll get better.”
It’s going to be fun mixed with dedication, Dayana said. “Goofing” around will have its limits.
“You’re going to play with other teams, and they are going to be more serious about it,” she said. “Whatever you show at practice, you are going to show on the field.”
All three said they know it can be done.
“Don’t be scared,” Fariana said. “Have some confidence. Just try. That’s all, try.”
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