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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

WIS Soccer Teams Forced to Adapt Due Construction on Field

The Girls Varsity Soccer Team huddling before a game. (Courtesy of Samantha Brown)

On Feb. 16, 2023, the closure of the Dacha marked the start of long-awaited construction on the WIS Tregaron campus, turning it into an immediate reality. The fate of WIS’s soccer team presented a difficult challenge for players and coaches alike.

After months of preparation, excavation for the new science building finally began this school year. “This is easily over a decade’s worth of work that has gone into this building,” Associate Head of School Natasha Bhalla said. 

Over the summer, the soccer field closed, and will remain closed for the next two years, displacing WIS’s five soccer teams across both middle and upper school. However, preparation for how to navigate the loss of the field for the 2023 fall season had begun months prior. The school had hoped that they could find a suitable field to use for practices, ideally not affecting their previous practice schedule. 

“Just before spring break the idea was brought to me about using [The University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) field]… and practice would run as normal,” upper school math teacher and Boys Varsity Soccer coach Andrew Sopher said. 

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However, when the implementation of UDC’s turf field got delayed, WIS had to find an alternative. As the search continued, the school had to leave behind the hope of being able to maintain a normal practice routine. Eventually, they settled on the Field School, which offered to host practices on their field every morning before school starts.

“[Morning practices] were the only thing that fit in terms of consistency and having an actual routine,” Sopher said. 

The upper school Boys Varsity and Junior Varsity teams practiced at the Field School every Monday and Wednesday morning, while the Girls Varsity team practiced on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Players were expected to be at practice at 6:30 a.m. and miss a large portion of first period classes. This shortened and less frequent practices  caused the teams to reevaluate how they conduct their practices. 

“It’s less about repetition and more about quality,” Sopher said. “We need to make sure we focus on technique.” 

This idea is replicated on the Girls Varsity team as well. “There’s a higher emphasis on technical training rather than larger tactical drills,” senior and team captain Solveig Unteroberdoerster said. 

This style of efficiency has also manifested itself throughout the team’s matches. “Our style of play has changed to a more direct approach,” Unteroberdoerster said. 

This system has come out of necessity, as the team has to be direct in how it approaches its training. 

“The students feel that sense of urgency because they want to get better, but they also know school is looming just a couple of minutes away,” Sopher said. “If it takes us 10 minutes to switch from drill to drill, that wastes time” 

Sopher believes that the change in style, forced on them by the field change, has actually yielded some benefits. “The technical details really will lead to [scoring] a goal,” Sopher said.

However, for some what is gained in efficiency, is lost in cohesion. “At the beginning, it was tough to mesh together,” Unteroberdoerster said. 

This is echoed by Sopher, who believes that the loss of practice time caused some challenges in the team’s playing style. “[The biggest disadvantage] is the amount of time we’re playing together,” Sopher said. “It’s a new group that has to learn how to play together.” 

However, both Unteroberdoester and Sopher believe that the playing experience eventually gained through matches throughout the season allowed for more unity throughout the team. 

“The more games we played, the more we adjusted to each other’s style of play,” Unteroberdoerster said.

However, the challenges brought about by the morning practices have not only been on the field. It has been very difficult to balance and navigate the early practice and school work. This has resulted in low attendance at many practices throughout the year.

“As a senior, I haven’t been able to go to the vast majority of practices, either because I wasn’t in a position where I could miss first period, or I had too much work the night before,” Unteroberdoerster said. 

The administration has attempted to aid the players with these struggles by setting up designated meeting times during assemblies, where players can conference with teachers.

“That’s my main focus… getting everything set and ready to go to support the students who are missing classes,” Bhalla said. 

However, despite the many hurdles that the teams have faced this year, they have been able to overcome their challenges. Both the Boys and Girls Varsity teams went undefeated in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference (PVAC), taking home both the regular season and tournament titles in the process. 

“I’m proud of how we’ve been fighting…” Unteroberdoerster said. ”I’m proud of our drive to get better.”

By Kasra Salehi


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Kas Salehi
Kas Salehi, Sports Editor
Hi, I’m Kas. I’m a junior and this is my second year as the Sports Editor at Dateline. I have been writing for three years and I enjoy writing about personal stories and profiles within sports. Outside of Dateline I enjoy playing tennis and the guitar. 

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