By Breven Honda
After losing six consecutive matches and falling to 2-6, the White Pine High School girls soccer team has turned its season around once again, capped off by 1-0 win over Fernley on Oct. 7 to get back over .500 and earn its fifth straight win.
Fourth-year head coach Jose Martinez said his team has been able to turn things around through its resilient mentality.
“It feels really good because of the fact that most of those losses came from a very emotional week where we had a lot of issues going down in our town,” Martinez said. “I had a lot of players that were very emotional. Most of those losses, I don’t really put them in to be anything big. I know that we showed those gains due to a lot of emotion.”
Having that toughness has been so crucial to Martinez’s team, who is looking to find their way back to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive season.
However, due to the program’s recent success, White Pine has needed to adjust to playing at the 3A level, after playing in the 2A South League over the last few years.
Martinez said his team has needed to adjust playing against different teams, especially when the entire schedule has no non-league opponents.
“When we first started, we were so used to our 2A (opponents) and knowing how they played,” Martinez said. “Now that we moved up, it’s been rough because we have no idea how they ever played. We can go from their statistics by their good games and bad days.
“We have been up to the challenge because knowing from the very get go that it wasn’t going to be very easy like it has been, they’re still hungry for a win.”
On the pitch, Martinez said the connection between his players has been vital to turning the ship around.
“I think our ball movement has been the biggest key to the way we’ve been playing lately,” Martinez said. “We have some great seniors that have been with me all four years and I think seeing it the way that I’ve been wanting to from the very get go to how we are playing now, I think the passing has been the biggest key for us.”
Keeping the ball and not turning the ball over leading to possible fast break opportunities for the opposition has been critical, especially in the three wins during the five-game winning streak that has been decided by one goal.
The day before the Ladycats’ 1-0 win, White Pine defeated Dayton 2-1 and a week before that, they defeated Pershing County 2-1.
White Pine has five matches remaining on its regular season schedule before the postseason. The Ladycats have their final two road games on their slate with a matchup at Lowry and Churchill County on Friday and Saturday before playing their final three games in the friendly confines at White Pine High School.
The Ladycats, who lost to Lowry and Churchill County on Sept. 1 and 2, have been hoping to extend their winning streak as the season comes to an end.
Martinez said the team’s earlier season mentality needs to remain on top of its confidence from the current winning streak.
“Our motto this season was to pretty much be champions, so we’re coming in with that,” Martinez said. “We’re trying to come in for the wins. We’re not going to try to settle for a tie and now that we are, we’re pushing out our middle of the season, I know the players that are going to be pushing me even harder.”
When the conclusion to the regular season is around the corner, that is when players want to be playing at their best, which White Pine has that opportunity with five games left.
Martinez said he hopes his team can continue their energy of playing as a unit to finish the season strong heading into the playoffs.
“When you have one player trying to do everything, it’s going to be hard,” Martinez said. “So, if they could get that understanding that soccer is all about the team, I’m pretty sure we can keep moving forward like how we have been for these past five games.
“We have started to work more as a team, more passing, more communication, more of a little bit of everything. So, they can keep that going, I’m pretty sure we can keep a nice front up.”