By Ric Webb
On the first day of practice, the Brandywine Heights High School girls’ soccer head coach Guy Miller told his players that a lot would be asked of them this season. Because of the low number of players on the team, they would be asked to play more than one position - in some cases, positions they had never played before.
Nobody seemed to mind. The girls played wherever they were needed and it payed off. After a slow start in the non-league season in which the they lost two of their first three matches by a total score of 13-0, the Lady Bullets found their way and went on to make the county playoffs for only the second time in the program’s history.
They continued their good play in the district playoffs and made it all the way to the district semifinals before losing to Northern York.
Then a few days later the team took on Wyomissing for third place in the districts and a spot in the state tournament. But it wasn’t to be as the Spartans defeated the Bullets, 3-1, to end the season for Brandywine.
“I’m very proud of all the girls on the team and the entire coaching staff,” said Coach Miller. “It was truly a win as a team, lose as a team season and they all did a great job of being a team all season long. This group of young ladies made the Bullets’ girls’ soccer team a fun and enjoyable group to coach.”
When the season began, the goals for the team were modest. It was the first season for Coach Miller and he knew there would be a learning curve for the team to learn his system. “I was hoping our team would be competitive in every game we played and we were,” said Miller.
The girls quickly learned to play the game the way their coached wanted them to and they quickly learned to play positions they had never played. But still, things were looking bleak as the home stretch of the regular Berks League season arrived.
“I told them that we needed to win our last four games to finish the season in order to have a chance at making either counties or districts, or both,” said Coach Miller. “The girls stepped up their play and did just that by beating Wyomissing, Antietam, Upper Perkiomen and Oley Valley to finish out the regular season.”
The Bullets lost in the first round of the league playoffs, but just getting there was an accomplishment few thought they would pull off. Next would be the District 3-AA Tournament and they went in just hoping to go as far as they could, but not much was expected of them as a 15th seed.
In the opening round they surprised everyone by upsetting Greencastle-Antrim, the second seed of the tournament, 1-0 on a goal by Nicole Winegardner. The Brandywine defense smothered Greencastle, allowing them just three shots in the game that were all stopped by goalkeeper Courtney Moyer.
Next was a 2-1 double overtime victory over 10th-seeded Elco on goals by Winegardner and Nyssa Hughes. Before you knew it, the 15th-seeded team was in the semifinals against the sixth-seeded Northern York.
The Cinderella ride ended with a 3-0 Northern York victory, and the season ended with a 3-1 loss to Wyomissing in the third placed match to give the Spartans the state berth. It was frustrating for Brandywine because they had played the Spartans twice during the season, getting a win and a tie.
But this time, Wyomissing scored two first half goals with the wind at their backs and had a 2-0 halftime lead. Winegardner scored her third goal of the district playoffs to cut the lead to 2-1. But with 20 minutes left in the second half, the Bullets lost a player to a red card which meant they were short-handed the rest of the game.
“The girls’ kept on working unil the final buzzer, but fell just a little short,” said Miller.
Still, considering they started with a new coach and a shortage of players, it was an amazing season. Hopefully its a sneak peak at the kind of program the Brandywine girls’ soccer team will become.