Soccer’s Road to STAte

The STA varsity soccer team has not won State for any of the past four years, and this year’s seniors are determined to make their last season worthwhile.


by Miriam Parsa, Social Media Team

Three years ago, the STA varsity soccer team did not make it past Districts. Two years ago, COVID ended their season prematurely. Last year, they got third place, making this the seniors’ last chance for victory.

Last year, during the 2020-2021 season, STA’s varsity soccer team made it to State in St. Louis, but placed in third due to their loss in the first game.

Senior Saige Wimes was unable to play STA soccer her freshman and sophomore years because of her role on her club team, so last year was her first time going to State.

“We [STA 20-21 soccer team] lost our first game [in State], so we had to play for third,” Wimes said. “Then we won the second game so we got third overall. I think we realized that we never want to feel like that again.”

The varsity soccer team had a successful season going for them up until this point, winning 17 games and losing 4.

Losing was disappointing, but feeling that loss gave me more inspiration to come back and win State the next year, especially because it will be my second and last chance,” Wimes said.

Sophomore Jenna Kuehn made varsity for her first year of STA soccer in the 20-21 season. According to Kuehn, it being her first year does not mean the loss stung any less.

“I think that everyone tried their best, so it was definitely hard for us to lose despite working hard and getting up to that point, and then it just all went down.”

Senior Sophie Harlan has been on varsity soccer for all four years of her high school career.

“Our heads were down,” Harlan said. “But when you get out there with everybody, and you’re on the field and it’s the last game, you have a better mindset. We put it all out there, and we were happy that we even got to State.”

Every player is prepared to do what it takes to win State this year.

“We know we need more team chemistry, we know we need to communicate more on the field, to make better decisions within the game,” Wimes said. “In the third-place game, we almost lost because they scored in the last minute, then we had to go into overtime. We need to make sure we’re managing the game when we’re up. And making sure those teams aren’t coming back at the end.”

“Getting that chemistry involves a lot of communication and bonding,” Wimes said. “Our team was all really close with each other, but especially just bonding on the field through communication.”

Harlan agrees that communication and relationships are critical.

“We need to just have fun laughing during practice and know when to be serious and when not to be serious,” Harlan said. “Just focus on keeping the culture healthy.”

“We’ll have more practices, obviously,” Kuehn said. “We’ll definitely start breaking stuff down and start focusing more on each little game and making sure we get everything prepared.”

All three players share the same sentiment: communication is the most important aspect to the chemistry of their games.

“The team dynamic is amazing,” Kuehn said. “Everyone’s friends with each other. We get along really well regardless of grade; it’s all integrated very well.”

Kuehn believes that mutual respect and admiration of her teammates’ skills helps strengthen the team’s relationship as well.

“My favorite part [about STA soccer] is definitely playing with upperclassmen and people I wouldn’t normally get to interact with,” Kuehn said. “We even have some D1 commits on the team. It’s crazy how good everyone is.”

Kuehn thinks that the dynamic between upper and underclassmen can have an impact on the skills of the younger players.

“[The seniors] are mentors, definitely,” Kuehn said. “With Saige, the way she plays is so amazing; she is going to be really successful in the future with her soccer career. I think looking at the way they play and bringing it on the field when I play is so cool and an opportunity for growth.”

Harlan appreciates the opportunity to be placed in a mentorship role by the underclassmen on her team.

“The dynamic is the best I’ve ever had on a soccer team,” Harlan said. “My freshman year, there were just three of us little freshmen. It made me realize I don’t want to be a scary senior. I want to be comforting and there if they need me and to cheer them on. That’s huge on why our team dynamic is so good. All of our seniors are like that.”

Harlan has experience from both her time on the STA soccer team as well as a club team. The difference for her has been the relationships.

“My club seasons were really hard because the environment was not healthy at all,” Harlan said. “Being in a healthy environment [in STA soccer] has really prepared me for playing for K-State, being around coaches that want the best for you in every situation. My club was super toxic.”

However, Harlan appreciates the environment that STA has given her to strengthen her skills in.

“[STA soccer] is so much healthier, and you’re surrounded by people who want the best for you and actually want you to be out there playing and want you to be the best you can,” Harlan said.

This year, the varsity team will do everything they can to secure a win.

We will focus on little things to make sure we’re comfortable with communicating with each other, which will just improve our whole game, and hopefully help us win at State,” Wimes said.

MSHSAA’s Class 4 State Soccer Tournament will take place June 3 and 4 in Benton, MO. Go stars!