With a relatively young team and strong athleticism, Libby High School girls soccer is gearing up for a season of strong competition.
“I’m excited. I’m really excited for these kids,” said Head Coach Eric Kapan.
Even during their 3-0 loss to Stevensville last Saturday, the Lady Loggers fought hard up until the final few minutes, holding the score to 0-0, he said.
But, with little chance to practice outside in recent smoke conditions, Libby simply ran out of steam.
“The kids got to really give it they’re all, and they literally ran out of gas,” he said. “So, I knew they pushed themselves.”
With a large part of the team made up of sophomores, Kapan said he also looks forward to carrying progress from this season on into the next two.
“I only have one freshman, though, so that’s a little discouraging,” he said. “There needs to be some new blood coming in.”
There are challenges to the soccer program in Libby, though they are not uncommon to Montana schools, Kapan said. With only a single varsity team, coaches have to find ways to train experienced and inexperienced players side-by-side.
To help with that, he has an optional half hour after practice.
“I usually have a handful who stay after and want to work on some stuff. It’s fun to just have the low pressure, and just kickin’ the ball around and learning some of the basics,” he said.
In his second year coaching the team, Kapan said he also feels a little more relaxed and is trying to make it more fun for the girls as well.
“It’s just always developmental for most of our kids. We have a good soccer program in town, but most of the kids leave it in about 4th grade, and go play something else, and they come back later,” he said. “So you’re kind of starting out from square one.”
The players also learn a lot from each other, he said. Part of that is simply having them get out on the field and kick the ball around to reinforce lessons through repetition and familiarity.
“If you put the time in, you get good at whatever you put the time into, you can’t help but get better,” he said.
But there’s more to it than just the game, he said. The players still need to keep their priorities straight.
“I tell them, my philosophy is, it’s faith, family, school, then soccer. Put all those things first,” he said.
The Lady Loggers are scheduled to play Park at Libby at 6 p.m. Friday, and Belgrade At noon on Saturday.