Senior Tribute: Shanley Girls Soccer
Shanley's Four seniors reflect on their soccer careers as Deacons
FARGO, N.D. — In the spring of 2019, Shanley girls soccer capped off a perfect 15-win season by winning the program’s second state title. That was the last time the Deacons were on the pitch together as a team due to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the spring sports season.
For senior captains Hadley Huber, Olivia Manuel, Ashley Hansen and Emily Post, not having the chance of going out on their own terms has been difficult to cope with but all are staying positive.
“Once it kind of hit that I wasn’t going to have it, I just settled with it because we did what we could last year,” senior defender Olivia Manuel said. “We ended with a win. We had a really good season last year and I know the incoming players are going to do great next year too.”
“Just knowing there was nothing we could do about, are team is still close and staying connected,” senior forward Hadley Huber said. “That makes the situation a little bit easier but knowing that we can’t control anything that’s happening is kind of comforting.
When looking back on three seasons together on the pitch, the lasting memories came from the bonds each player formed.
“The chemistry that we had,” Manuel said. “Whether it was at practice talking to our coaches before we even start practice or even just pregames or in the locker room. Just remembering the little things.
“Being state champs,” senior defender Ashley Hansen said. “It was just that whole season that made it the best was the best memory because we were so tight and our chemistry was really good and we all really enjoyed the game of soccer and had fun with it.
“Our last season was probably the most memorable just because like Ashley said the relationships we formed were built even after the soccer season and we just got to come together and play soccer,” Huber said.
Revisiting the state championship game, what made the Deacons come out as champions was the long road and the mentality it took to get that point made it all happen.
“The process leading up to that game because we started on the first day of practice saying that June 1st was going to be our day and were just going to win that day and that was something we set our eyes on from day one and we never looked back,” Huber said.
“Our theme was believe and achieve so the whole season we thought of that and we worked really hard together for that state championship,” Hansen said.
“We all worked hard for each other and when the buzzer went off, everyone just felt a shy of relief like we did it and everyone was just so excited and it was fun,” Manuel said.
Even though the seniors went out as winners last year, it does not make up for a lost season in 2020, all of them would have welcomed the grind of winning it all over again.
“We had the work ethic and everyone was determined we could get the two peat,” Manuel said. “I think all the younger players once they saw we could do it, now we just know what it takes, I think we could it.”
“Winning the state championship is what everyone dreams about,” Huber said. “Going out on top, yes that was a nice way to go out but I would definitely rather have the challenge of having to go get it again and having that target on our backs and having to defend that title. It doesn’t take the place of this season, but for the way everything worked out, it worked out fine.”
While three of the four go off to college not continuing playing the game they love, there’s always a lasting impact soccer gave them moving forward in their lives.
“Ever since I was little I’ve been playing soccer and I wasn’t always good, I didn’t start out making goals or stopping things you know, I wasn’t great but I know if I kept working towards a common goal of getting better every day, I would find success in the future,” Manuel said.
“There’s always going to be people, like your teammates, especially that are going to help you reach your goal and as cheesy as it sounds relying on other people, it makes achieving your goals a lot easier because if we said we were going to win a state title but we all had to do it on our own,” Huber said. “There’s no way we could’ve of done it and I think that’s very applicable in the real world.”
“Knowing that you can’t control some other things and you can’t control the refs and the weather all that, but you can control how much effort you bring to practice and to games and control your mindset by thinking the best in your teammates,” Hansen said. “Helping them improve and when everyone has that common mindset of working hard and having good team chemistry, that’s how you succeed and have fun.”
“Your height doesn’t really matter,” senior midfielder Emily Post said. “It doesn’t really matter and soccer helped me with that because I was always one of the shortest ones out there but it didn’t stop me from going up against the taller people or giving 100 percent.
Hanson will play soccer at Bethel college next season. Huber will attend Arizona State, Manuel heads up north to UND and Post stays close to home and becomes a Bison in the fall.