Five seniors and one junior have the Flagler Palm Coast Lady Bulldogs in a position to set records and win championships.
Eight shutouts, one goal allowed in nine games, and a whole lot of domination.
There is still a lot of soccer left to be played, but the Flagler Palm Coast girls soccer team is molding into a team that hopes to contend for a district championship.
Seniors Allyson Smith, Miranda Campbell, Haley Lademann, Sam Salvatore and Brooke Landry, along with junior Victoria Martins, have helped the Lady Bulldogs to an 8-0-1 start, with the only tie coming against rival Spruce Creek.
Through the early part of the season, FPC has already defeated district opponents University and DeLand. (FPC played DeLand Wednesday, Dec. 7, but the score was too late to print.)
Despite the early success, this group of gritty players is focused on the task at hand: winning championships. And, to them, it doesn’t matter how they get there.
Defense wins championships
Smith and Martins are the center backs. Salvatore and Landry are the left and right defenders, respectively. Between them, the four players have 14 seasons of varsity experience. The four have been playing soccer together since sixth grade.
The only goal they have allowed this season was in a 2-1 win over Bolles.
As a defensive unit, the four agree that the chemistry on the field is natural.
“It really helps playing with each other for so long because we know what each other is capable of,” Smith said in an interview Monday. “Sometimes speaking isn’t necessary, it’s just body movements.”
The four defenders agree they rarely get recognition for their hard work, but they know their teammates, and coach Pete Hald, take notice.
Lademann: ‘I want the record’
Haley Lademann has been FPC’s starting goalkeeper since she was a freshman.
Through eight games this season, Lademann has allowed only one goal — good for a 0.14 goals against average. But eight isn’t good enough, Lademann said.
She has her sights set on FPC’s single-season record for shutouts, which stands at 15.
With eight regular-season games remaining, and hopefully at least a few playoffs games, Lademann has a shot to break the record. She’s not shy about trying to break it, either.
“My defenders know about the record, and they help remind me every game,” Lademann said. Without them, she wouldn’t look as good between the pipes, she said.
“They have great heart and desire,” Lademann said. “The defensive line is like a family, and everyone has each other’s backs.”
Back on the field
During a preseason game last season, Miranda Campbell, then a junior, injured her right ankle. It turned out to be a third-degree sprain, and sidelined her for 19 games.
“I remember being so excited for the season, so it was horrible,” Campbell said. “It made going to the away games and sitting on the bus and bench even worse. It seemed like it was much longer than it was.”
But with about a month left to play last season, Campbell got back on the field. She scored minutes into her first game back.
Hald has used Campbell primarily as center midfielder this season, though she sees time as forward, too. She leads the team in points with 10 goals and six assists.
“Miranda has made a huge difference,” Hald said. “Not only because of her ability to score goals, but her play at center midfield has been excellent. Our midfielders make our back four better by controlling the game, and Miranda is a huge part of that.”
Though the numbers look nice right now, Hald, his five seniors, and the rest of the team realize there’s plenty of work to do.
“It isn’t so much how you start, but how you finish,” Hald said. “We want to win championships. So far, so good. See you at the finish line.”