The Libby High School girls soccer team’s 3-2 win against the Bigfork Valkyries Saturday wasn’t just their first win of the season.
Libby Head Coach Eric Kapan said that it was the first win the Lady Loggers have taken in at least five years, if not longer. With how much the players have been psyching themselves up before games, it has the potential to be a huge confidence boost.
Kapan agreed that Bigfork and Libby were well-matched in skill level and execution compared to many of the teams that the Lady Loggers have had losses to this year.
But Bigfork isn’t the only team that Libby has a chance to beat, he said.
“I think Bigfork, they’ve been similar to us forever,” he said. “We tend to play really bad when we play them, and this year we did not.”
There were two big mistakes Kapan noted, and each ended with a score against the Lady Loggers.
But, the increased level of aggressive play and teamwork from the Lady Loggers were readily apparent on the field.
After the game, Kapan said he asked the players what they felt won the game for them.
“The first answer was, ‘We won the ball,’ and all the players who need to be doing that, were doing that today,” he said. “There are a few of them who play hard all the time, and there are some who don’t, and everybody played hard today.”
Kapan said he planned to have the team review game footage so they could see what they look like when they are playing well.
There was a point, when the Valkyries tied the game up 2-2, coming back from a 2-0 deficit, when Kapan got a little nervous, he said. He knew the players have psyched themselves out before, and didn’t want to see them let the win slip away from them.
“And they came through, and they got to keep shooting,” Kapan said. “And they all agreed they had fun today, and that’s good.”
How significant the morale boost will be is yet to be seen, Kapan said. “I have no idea.
It could be exponential, I’m hoping.”
Kapan said that a lot of bringing the team around to their first win in years has been simply getting touches on the ball at practice.
“We’re doing lots of fundamental,” he said. “I mean, they’re doing, I think, minimum of about 500 touches on the ball per practice in the beginning — the first half hour.”
WIth that emphasis, Kapan said he is looking for exponential growth out of the team. It’s that potential -- with the things the room they have to improve on basic skills -- that could allow them to catch up to teams they haven’t been close to before.
The payoff showed in the win against Bigfork, Kapan said.
“I’m excited for the rest of the season for sure,” he said.
Between her goal with a corner kick to her success controlling the ball and moving it down field, Kapan said junior midfielder Sydney Gier had a particularly good game. He also noted how aggressively junior Kiera Ward and sophomore defensive back Ruby Martin played.
“I mean, they all did. They were winning the ball -- they were going to the ball -- instead of letting the other team win it and have it,” he said. “That’s just the game. If you want to let the other team have the ball and shoot on you all day long, they’ll be doing that.”
The Lady Loggers play at Columbia Falls on Saturday, starting at 5 p.m.
They’re next home game at Logger Stadium will be Saturday, Sept. 29 at 10 a.m., when they face Whitefish.