GIRLS SOCCER: Cougars Look Forward to Exciting 2021-2022 Season

Coach Gabe Padilla has high hopes for the Weston Ranch High School girls soccer team this year. The Cougars enter the 2021-2022 season with another young and inexperienced team, but Padilla and Weston Ranch will always compete and give each opponent a challenging matchup.

“To describe our team this year has to be fighters,” Padilla told The Prowl. “They are going to battle and give the opposition a fight for 80 minutes. They will be playing with a lot of heart.”

Like many other schools and programs, Weston Ranch will have to overcome the Covid-19 layoff. For the Cougars, losing that year of experience will be a formidable obstacle to overcome. In addition to playing a demanding schedule and competing in the challenging VOL, Padilla knows his club will have to make significant strides if it wants to improve and compete.

“Our goal this year is to build on the foundation that coach Nelson (JV head coach Bailey Nelson) started two years ago,” Padilla said.
“Covid took a toll on many programs last year, so we want to make sure we keep building on what she began and keep heading in the right direction.”

In addition to the Covid-19 layoff, the Cougars will also have to deal with inexperience. Weston Ranch is one of the few schools that do not benefit from the club and junior programs, two things that put the Cougars at a disadvantage when playing more experienced schools. However, Padilla notes that while this is not all bad for his program, it certainly puts them behind once the games begin.

“Our biggest challenge, as a program, is to teach our younger players much of the game in a short timespan,” Padilla said. “Many of them have never played before, so we have to try and squeeze in as much as 14 years of experience in a couple of months as other schools in our league have most players on their roster that started playing organized soccer since they were 4-5 years old.”

He went on to add, “Our strength is going to be our heart and determination. We are determined to get better and better. We are committed to competing with the big schools and hopefully shock a few people along the way with how much we have improved as a program.”

Youth and inexperience aside, Padilla will need to rely on all players to help his program turn the corner. While noting it is a team effort, Padilla will depend on two returners to exhibit leadership while on the pitch.

” I feel as if I shouldn’t single out one player because soccer is the ultimate team sport,” Padilla said. “All 11 players on the field have to be on the same page and communicate with one another to be successful. But being able to hold the middle of the field is the foundation to make this season work. So a lot of the load is going to fall on Montserrat Ruiz Perez and Sofia Barrera.”

Tonight, the Cougars play their first home match of the year after dropping their opener on the road to Bret Harte High School 4-1. Padilla expects tonight’s game to be an excellent beginning for the Cougars.

“I think fans and parents should expect to feel excited,” Padilla commented. “I noticed last season that there was a lot more energy in the stands when watching our games. There have been much more positives than negatives as this program continues to grow, and the kids will feed off that energy.”

The Cougars take on Lathrop High School tonight at the Weston Ranch Stadium. The JV takes the field at 5 pm, and the Varsity will kick it off at 6:30.