While they may be the shortest kids on campus and the youngest on the team, earning their spots on the varsity soccer roster this year are freshman Dara Kasrovi for men’s, and freshmen Leah Kochgndoerfer, Mary Clifford, and Eleanor Brown for women’s.
With numerous players injured, men’s varsity head coach Rory O’Connor pulled Kasrovi up from JV after winter break because the team needed somebody of his particular skill set. Kasrovi has been playing soccer since he was two and currently plays forward or on the wing.
“[Making varsity] was a goal of mine,” Kasrovi said. “I didn’t expect it to happen, but it did and I’m really pleased with myself.”
O’Connor said he feels it is good for freshmen to get used to playing high school soccer at the JV level first, before being moved up to varsity.
“I still hold the same policy that the freshmen would have to earn their way up to the team. I think it’s better for them and I think it’s better for the squad,” O’Connor said. “In terms of Dara, definitely worth it. He’s added to the team and is definitely worth his place on the squad.”
Varsity player junior Bryan Ford said after Kasrovi was moved up, he scored two goals in his first game.
“He really proved his spot on the team and showed that he should have been on varsity from the get-go,” Ford said. “He definitely makes an impact on the team.”
Ford said Kasrovi assimilated into the team smoothly and likes to goof around with the other players.
“He’s a pretty weird kid,” Ford said. “We have a kind of weird, really crazy team. His personality definitely fits in with the team.”
Kasrovi said his team is a good group of people and really fun to play with.
“They’re older, which is kind of intimidating, but I try my best not to be intimidated,” Kasrovi said.
O’Connor said Kasrovi is a very skillful and intelligent player who has good vision and is quick with his feet.
“I think we should use him as an example of somebody who got the chance to come up through hard work and earned it, and has thoroughly deserved it,” O’Connor said.
While Clifford was initially the only freshman to make varsity, Kochgndoerfer and Brown were pulled up from JV because they stood out, had good attitudes, and were hard workers, said women’s varsity head coach Dan Chubbock.
“They add to the chemistry and dynamic of the team,” Chubbock said. “One of the big advantages [of having freshmen on the team] is that we get to work with them for a longer amount of time.”
Chubbock said age or grade level were not a factor in tryouts.
“Whether you’re a freshman or senior, we look to take the strongest players,” Chubbock said. “If they’re good enough, they’re old enough.”
Kochgndoerfer, who was pulled up from JV about two weeks into the season, began playing soccer when she was seven on a recreational team. She currently plays right or left midfield and also plays for a competitive team outside of school.
“In the beginning, it was weird because you’re new to high school, so you don’t really know any of these people,” Kochgndoerfer said. “It was really hard to connect with my teammates and play with them, but as the season went on, I got to know them and it’s a much better experience. My teammates comment on my height, but it’s just like a fun joke.”
Clifford started playing soccer when she was five and currently plays midfield on varsity. She said initially, being on the team was scary because her teammates were older and intimidating, but after becoming friends with them, it got really fun.
“I feel like some people didn’t see me the same as others because I was smaller and a freshman,” Clifford said. “Now I feel like I’m just part of the team.”
Brown has been playing soccer since she was in first grade. She was pulled up to varsity around mid-January.
“It was cool because I was excited that I would be able to play with other people who are better than me, so I could learn from them,” Brown said.
Varsity captain senior Claire Lim, who was on varsity her freshman year, sees similarities between herself and the current freshmen in that they are eager to please people and prove themselves as players.
“They’re very energetic, very eager to better themselves, and they have really great attitudes,” Lim said. “They help us keep our mentality fresh and young.”
Chubbock said all of the freshmen girls get significant amounts of playing time. As the season has progressed, they have become more outgoing and confident around the other girls.
“The longer they’ve been on the team, the more they’ve come out of their shells, the more you see their personalities shine through,” Chubbock said. “I’d like to see some of the other girls have the enthusiasm and drive that they have. It’d be nice if that fills throughout the whole team.”