The Mimbas Are Prancing Their Way to Victory
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After leading for three quarters of the game against one of its rivals, Beacon High School, the Mimbas, the Stuyvesant girls’ varsity soccer team, conceded the equalizing goal. It may have been easy for the Mimbas, who had dominated possession throughout the game, to just fold and play for a draw. However, they refused to give in. With eight minutes left and anxiety exuding from the Stuyvesant sideline, the ball took a deflection off an errant pass into the box. Junior and co-captain Susie McKnight was there to clean up the rebound and bury the ball into the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
Going into the season, the Mimbas were thrilled to finally get back onto the field together. After a COVID-19-ridden fall saw the Mimbas lose out on their season last year, they were excited to compete on the pitch once again. However, due to the unusual nature of last season, the Mimbas needed time to adjust to their changes in personnel. Despite a strong returning core led by leading goal-scorer and senior co-captain Lucinda Bryce, the Mimbas have only nine upperclassmen, who had limited varsity experience as underclassmen. Nine upperclassmen is the lowest count for the Mimbas in many years. Even with their expected rust, the girls were happy that they came out of the gates strong and put together an impressive showing in their first four matches. They ended September with a 2-1 record. Despite their strong start, which has the Mimbas fifth in their 13-team Manhattan A division, they still recognize that their weaknesses, specifically defensively, must be corrected in order to become the team they want to be.
In two of their first three matches, particularly against Lab Museum United and LaGuardia High School, the Mimbas were able to use their offensive firepower to take commanding leads. Led by Bryce, who is attempting to follow up her 17-goal sophomore year campaign, with seven goals through help from Mcknight, senior Shivali Korgaonkar, and junior Alessandra Colagreco-Knight, the Mimbas were able to outscore their opponents 12-1 over their first two wins. The team utilized its speed and athleticism to blow out the opposition.
Between the games against LaGuardia and Lab, the Mimbas were tested defensively for the first time in the season against Bard High School. The game started out rocky. Defensive lapses, specifically around the box, and the Mimbas’ tendency to concede corners created easy scoring chances for Bard. Though the game ended in a 3-1 loss, the Mimbas built off their strong second half performance in order to learn and improve.
“Right now our biggest weaknesses are transition defense and connecting passes from the defense to the midfield […] Against Bard, we conceded too many corners,” Bryce said. Her comments are reflected in the fact that the team allowed a season-high three goals against Bard.
The upperclassmen on the team also want to instill a stronger mental approach to the game in order to provide an example for the underclassmen. The captains have been encouraging the team to be stronger on the ball and more resilient in chasing it. “[Bard] beat us to every 50/50 ball […] We need to be more aggressive,” McKnight said. Winning possession for the team will allow more time to construct a strong attack while limiting the time opponents have to create offensive opportunities. The possession battle, often determined by the aforementioned 50/50 balls, is a strong indicator of which team is controlling the game.
The Mimbas seemed to carry their captains’ message into their game against Bronx Science High School. While they were hoping for a win, the game ended in a 1-1 tie. However, the team’s defensive performance certainly represented a step in the right direction. The young defensive line for the Mimbas stepped up to the task against a formidable opponent, which was a success for the team.
In their past two contests, against the quality Hunter College High School and Beacon High School teams, the up-and-down nature of the season continued. It seemed that the team may have taken a step back with the loss to Bard. But, the team showed its progress in a 2-1 win against reigning city champion Beacon. For its confidence and playoff standing, the Beacon victory meant a lot to the team.
As the season progresses, the Mimbas will continue to gain experience, particularly in the defensive end. As inexperienced defenders adapt to the pace of high school soccer and pick up on the tendencies of opponents’ strikers, they will continue to improve. The Mimbas hope to continue to make history and improve defensive play into the playoffs.