The Pirates have exceeded expectations so far this season. But they're not done yet.
After a season in which Matanzas' girls soccer team went 9-12 and graduated some of their top players, the Pirates' Pawel Slusarz, and the rest of his team, believed the Pirates were in for a rebuilding year entering his second season as Matanzas' head coach.
But with the postseason on the horizon, the Pirates have defied those expectations, winning 10 of their first 12 games.
The Pirates had sky high expectations last season but suffered a 6-0 loss to Ponte Vedra in the district semifinal on Jan. 28. In addition, the Pirates graduated one of the school's best goal scorers in team captain Alyssia Paiz, who topped 100 goals for her career last season.
“I don’t really want to mention one or two girls. It’s the whole team. I could go throughout the whole roster. Everyone has given us more than we expected.”
PAWEL SLUSARZ, Matanzas head coach
"Yes, it's a surprise," senior goalkeeper Anessa Harrison said of the team's success. "But I think that we've always had it in us. We just finally pushed through."
Before the season started, the Pirates set a goal of growing closer together as a team as the season went on. Every member of the team cited this as the main reason for the Pirates' stellar play in 2019-20.
"I think the biggest thing is that we do things together as a team," Slusarz said. "That might sound obvious, but it's not always the case. These girls fight for each other."
Harrison said previous teams were more "cliquey." That's not the case with this current squad.
"We weren't as together the past few years," she said. "But we came together. We're a family now."
Because the Pirates have exceeded expectations, the mindset has changed. Instead of scraping by on a .500 overall record, the Pirates want championships: conference, districts and beyond.
"We want to go as far as we can in both of those," sophomore defender Fatima Barham said. "I think we've exceeded our goal of what we wanted to be. But we've still got more to do. We've got a lot more to prove."
And to do that, they have to take it one game at a time.
"I'm trying to keep the girls calm and to not think about our record," Slusarz said. "We're trying to play every game like it's the first game of the season."