COLUMBIA CITY – Many banners hang in Columbia City High School’s Donald S. Weeks gymnasium. Not one of them is from the girls’ soccer program.
The Lady Eagles want to change that sooner than later.
Columbia City is getting closer. The team is two conference games away from finishing with a winning record in the conference, something it hasn’t achieved the last eight seasons.
“I fully expect us to win our last two conference games so that we finish over half our games this year in the conference,” said Columbia City head coach Mike Cotter.
Columbia City has new opponents in their sectional. The Lady Eagles have the opportunity to play Concordia, Dwenger, Garrett and Leo. Cotter believes playing the 2A teams will be more favorable to them.
“From the research I have done, I’ve found that we’re as good, if not better than those teams. My sectional expectation is that we’re going to win it. Dwenger will be the most challenging, but I think we can beat them all,” said Cotter.
The Lady Eagles are trending upwards despite the roster being mainly freshmen and sophomores. Skye Roberts and Grace Cotter are more experienced players who have the most success attacking the net. Roberts and Cotter are both top 15 scorers in all of Indiana 2A. Margo Keller and Madison Woodward are freshmen who also put pressure on the opponent’s goalkeepers. Savannah Simmers is top 30 in scoring as well.
“For them to come from middle school soccer to playing varsity, is quite impressive. They’ve caught on really well,” said Cotter. “Really, other than the mental breakdowns, I’ve been impressed with all the girls.”
Also, Hannah Behm is doing well tracking down shots in the box.
“Hannah is solid in-between the posts and shows up every day to compete,” Cotter said.
Cotter believes some of his girls are notable of all-conference recognition.
“I would not be surprised if a few of them receive all-conference,” Cotter said. “I think they’ve earned the recognition.
Cotter believes his team has been good enough to win every game they’ve played. The members simply don’t always have the opportunity to play to their full potential.
“You can certainly look at our record and consider that a successful season. The problem is that we’re better than those three losses and the tie. In those four game, we were not mentally prepared to compete all 80 minutes. Those teams are no better than our roster, they just had more will to win the game than we did,” said Cotter.
The Lady Eagles may not live up to all of Cotter’s goals for the season, but many still remain to be achieved.
“My preseason goals before the season was to go 13-2 with a conference championship. Right now, we are falling short on where we could have been. That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of the way they have competed for the most part, but we have had mental breakdowns that lost us some matchups,” said Cotter.
It’s been Cotter’s job to get the Lady Eagles in the right set, and get them mentally prepared for games.
“I try to have them mentally prepared,” he said. “They are fundamentally set, good as it gets. But it’s putting those fundamentals for a full match that has been the problem.
“It all boils down to lack of urgency, focus and concentration. They need to work on the little things until it sets in for them. We’ve had issues for not showing the entire match, then we dwindled it down to just a half and then down to 20 minutes. We need to play a full 80.”
Cotter is a believer in his roster, but says the girls need to believe in themselves for the group to have a season that will be remembered for a long time.
“We have to get rid of the panic that sets in,” he said. “When they have panic, they pass the ball aimlessly. We do better when we have a rhythm of short passes. They play much better when they’re confident in their own abilities. I tell them that they’re as skilled and technical as anyone else out there. It all comes down to believing in themselves.”
Cotter has plenty to be proud of in his team. His team is just as good elsewhere as they are on the pitch, he said.
“We consider ourselves a blue-collar team,” said Cotter. “We’re going to be successful by doing the non-glamorous fundamentals and just working for it. Our girls are just as academic as athletic. They’re all good students and citizens.