After their first six games of the 2018 season, the Quince Orchard girls’ soccer team finds themselves not only as the #6 ranked team by the Washington Post, but also with an undefeated record, outscoring their opponents by a combined 19-3. Even with the high ranking and dominating goal differential, longtime coach Peg Keiller has no plans to settle as one of the top teams in the state. She is still working to correct any sign of weakness.
QO’s last win came on the Lakelands Park turf field after the consistent rain over the past few weeks altered the team’s ability to play and finish games. A rare Saturday night kickoff caused no problems for QO as they trounced Springbrook High School, 8-0. The Cougars got out of a tough stretch against two of the more highly anticipated matchups, beating Wootton High School 3-1 in a torrential downpour and coming back late in the game against Poolesville High School to win 2-1. QO also swept past Gaithersburg High School (3-0) for one of their three shutouts of the season.
With a goal differential of 19-3, the team has little in the way of weaknesses, especially in their ability to score. But with the resume and experience Keiller has, she knows what it takes for a team to go on a deep run into the playoffs.
“Finishing,” said Keiller when asked about her team’s weaknesses. “We create a ton of possession and goal scoring opportunities but haven’t converted quite as many as we should have.” If a team that was able to win a game 8-0 is hard at work improving their finishing, defenses in the county better come ready to play.
Senior outside back Kaitlyn Price agreed with her coach’s tough assessment. “While we do have lots of goals for this season, we have had triple the amount of chances. What I think we really need to work on is turning those opportunities into even more goals,” she said.
Price is a part of the most consistent element of the Cougars’ play so far—their veteran defense. Keiller had high praise for her entire defense, including junior goalkeeper Katie Orr, junior centerback Lindsey Brick, senior centerback Jenna Williams, junior defensive center midfielder Kate Faraone, and junior outside back Faith Lane who plays alongside Price.
On the offensive side of the ball, the story is a little different. Junior Paige McNeal and senior Mary Wari head a young but explosive offense. McNeal leads the team with three goals and one assist while Wari follows closely behind with two goals and one assist of her own. Although the midfield is rather young, Keiller is excited about the talent. Freshmen Carli Sullenger and Grace Soler along with sophomore Natalie Price have all made their statistical impact already.
Williams is proud of the hard work her teammates have put in throughout the summer and beginning of the season as they dawn their #6 ranking in the area, but she knows the team has more to give. “Our team has used the ranking as motivation to keep working hard,” she said. “We plan to continue playing the way we’ve been playing this year, taking each game at a time, in hopes that it will keep us at #6 or move higher.”
The Cougars can feel the constant target on their back but have been able to use it as motivation. Williams thinks her “team feeds off of the pressure and challenges we’ve faced and will face.” QO will have to be able to continue to feed off that pressure as they head into the second half of their season.