Old Rochester Regional’s girls soccer players still want the chance to dominate South Coast Conference play when the MIAA’s Fall II season rolls around later in the 2020-21 academic year. Still, if that falls through, some of them will be just fine — even seniors.
That’s all thanks to the Mariner Youth Soccer League.
When ORR players found out their regional high school had opted to participate in the Fall II season with the rest of the SCC rather than the traditional fall season amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mariner Soccer came up with an option for high school girls soccer players.
Mariner Soccer put together a fall season for those athletes while the high school season remains on hold. And the idea was not exclusive to Old Rochester soccer players. Mariner Soccer reached out to all of the SCC schools, receiving entries from eight schools — ORR Apponequet, GNB Voc-Tech, Dighton-Rehoboth, Fairhaven, Bourne, and Wareham — five of which also had a junior varsity team in the league.
“It was a really good turnout,” Old Rochester senior Brianna Machado said. “I’m really glad that most of the SCC teams did end up doing it. That made it feel like it was a regular season for us, getting to play against the teams we’ve played all throughout our high school years.”
Also, by facing other SCC opponents, ORR got a chance to see what they’re made of ahead of Fall II. With Meg Hughes’ and Mary Butler’s ORR days now behind them, the Bulldogs weren’t exactly sure what to expect going into this season.
All doubts were quieted by the end of the season, as the ORR girls finished a perfect 6-0 in Mariner Soccer’s fall league.
“I think it was really good for the team, in general, to be together, rather than in an actual season setting,” ORR senior Rachel Zutaut said. “We lost some really good players last year, and we were all really skeptical going about how we were going to be without them. It was really nice to see that we’re capable of winning and being a good team without the seniors who graduated in 2019.
“We were really scared going into the season that it was going to be a rough one.”
Of course, playing in the fall with the country still facing COVID-19 called for some adjustment on the part of players. Specifically, players had to wear masks. For Machado, the masks weren’t a real factor, but for Zutaut, it posed a legitimate issue.
“I have asthma, so it was really hard for me,” she said. “I couldn’t play more than 15 minutes at a time without really having a hard time breathing. Normally, I can play the whole half and be fine, but I couldn’t even make it 20 minutes.”
But even with the masks and the concerns surrounding COVID-19, Zutaut wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to play. Not only did she and Machado get the chance to play with their friends, but it was also one last chance to play for their fathers, who coached them both from when they were kids and volunteered to help run the team in the Mariner Soccer fall league.
“We had a lot of our parents step up,” Machado said. “My dad coached me ever since I was little, so to be able to have him coach me again for my final season, if we don’t get Fall II, was the most memorable thing I got to experience.”
By Nick Friar