By Daniela Ramirez
Pre-season soccer has finally begun for local high schools.
The Hemet High School Bulldogs took over the field on March 17 at Ramona High School with a 2-1 win over the Rams during both teams’ third game of the season.
Hemet has no freshman or junior varsity team this season. All the girls who played March 17 were freshman, sophomore or junior students. Many of them were new to the team.
The majority of Hemet’s girls played the entire game, since the Bulldogs only had two substitutes. Ramona had up to 9 girls on its bench during the game.
Hemet dominated possession of the ball during the first half, with 5 attempts and 1 personal foul. The team’s defense came out strong, pushing the ball forward to Ramona’s side of the field.
Sierra Higgerson, a midfield junior, scored the first goal of the game in the second half with an assist by Damary Vargas.
Vargas, a junior, plays as a forward but controlled the center of the field, stealing the ball from Ramona time and time again.
Vargas and Higgerson said they had never played with each other before this season. They still managed to work together in scoring the winning goals.
Delayed practices have changed the way the players learn how to build chemistry with each other.
“Lots of these girls never played with each other, since practices are so limited,” said Veronica Morda, head coach at Ramona.
Morda said the team’s chemistry is the biggest factor they need to work on before the regular season begins in April.
Craig Dwinnell, head coach at Hemet, said he only has enough players to put together a varsity team. Throughout the pandemic, many of his senior players decided to get jobs and some graduated early, leaving him with a team of underclassmen.
Although a young team, the Bulldogs have shown potential to be a team to look out for, as they advanced to a record of 3-0 with their win over Ramona.
Dwinnell said he is very optimistic for the upcoming soccer season, but that the athletes getting better and being active is his main goal.
“I’m just happy the girls are playing,” Dwinnell said.
Both teams still have 13 games to play.