Hawks working hard for shot at another state title


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Freshman Hannah Lucas (No. 19) moves the ball upfield against Palm Bay. The Hawks won the game 10-0. Photo by Carl Kotala

The Viera High girls soccer team is no longer the little engine that could.

The Hawks don’t just think they can win a state title. They know they can.

But as important as that belief is, the Hawks also know that this is a new season. And that means new challenges. After all, the state title wasn’t given to them last year. They had to work their tails off to earn it.

This season won’t be any different.

“We’re not a state championship team anymore,” senior Jordan Walsh said. “We’re a team that has won it, but that was last year’s team. This year’s team is a whole new thing and that’s what we’re focusing on.

“That’s our goal (to win another state championship), but there are a lot of little things to accomplish before that. Our main focus is the next game and to keep improving.”

The good thing for the Hawks is that the bulk of their championship team returns. Replacing four starters like Hope Leonard, Kassidy Mills, Nicki Fisher and Tori Clark won’t be easy, but so far the team has seen nothing but good things from Julia Ramsey, JJ Bryant, Mollie Roe and Sarah Kelliher.

“They have such a great work ethic,” Walsh said. “They’re all wanting to learn. We actually bonded very well, very early in the season. They’re just carrying the same mentality that we left off. It’s really an exciting thing to be a part of again.”

Viera girls coach Courtney Lundy likes the way her team has embraced the challenge of working hard every day.

The Hawks faced some big challenges early this season, tying Merritt Island 0-0 in their season opener and then beating Montverde Academy 1-0 and Cocoa Beach 3-2.

“We take it a day at a time, so how good will they be?” Lundy said. “They can be as good as they want to be. I think their long-term goal is the state championship, and I think if we work hard, we can reach that. It’s going to be up to them and what they want to do.”

Back to play a key role once again is sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Lau, who has already come up big in games against Merritt Island and Montverde Academy.

“When she’s on, she’s a keeper that everyone needs to watch,” Lundy said.

Defenders Shannon Gosule and Sarah Sanford will be the Hawks’ “backbone” and on the outside the team has Morgan Pulliam and Ramsey.

In the center, it’s Mollie Roe — who moved up to varsity late last year — and Bryant, who didn’t play last year because of club soccer, but is out for the team now.

“Her spirit has been awesome,” Lundy said of Bryant. “She’s become a leader with just the few weeks she’s been out here.”

The Hawks are happy to get Kelliher back from a knee injury she sustained last season and she should get help at times from Cori Fisher.

Hollyn Knight and Brooke Walsh will be at the top of the formation.

“They play really well together,” Lundy said. “When they’re on, it’s like magic.”

If there is a glue to the team, it might just be Jordan Walsh, who plays attacking center mid.

“You talk about someone working hard,” Lundy said. “When she’s on and she’s working hard, it’s like a domino effect. She’s definitely huge for us.”

According to Jordan Walsh, one of the biggest things the Hawks can take from last year’s team and transfer it to this year’s version is that family-like feeling where every player has each other’s back.

“That was our motto,” she said.

How it all plays out remains to be seen, but this year’s team seems to have the right combination of knowing what it takes to be successful and wanting to do all that it takes to get back there.

“They definitely believe in it now, but they also know they have to work hard,” Lundy said. “It’s a new year. It’s a new team. We started off the season and we have goals, short-term goals and our long-term goal.

“But they know they’re going to have to work for it. It’s not going to come easy. It wasn’t easy last year.”