WASHINGTON — While it is usually true that a team must score to win, it is also often true that defense wins championships.
Newly named Washington girls soccer coach Stacy Bryant is not new to the program. He has coached several years.
And while he expects the 2013 girls soccer team at Washington to have plenty of offense, he believes his new team will also have to understand the defensive end of the pitch.
“I think we will play high-pressure defense,” Bryant said. “That may be more risky, but a lot of the girls have played this way with me before. I feel we will have a good system that supports us very well. We will concentrate on defense, playing smarter and using our skill players. We don’t have defensive and offensive crews like, in football. I will be focused on the back line because we¹ve lost some people there. That’s a key. When we start, I’ll be looking for the girls who are sponges for defensive technique, attitude and tactics.”
Bryant believes the team has optimism entering the year, after reaching the sectional final last fall before falling to host Castle, 4-0. And while Bryant has basic objectives that he wants to see, he is far from forming final opinions.
“I really don’t have cemented ideas about the team yet,” Bryant said. “I know a lot of the girls, but people change, bodies change. It’s a little early yet, but I think we have the people to do well. I’m eager to get started.”
He also had the chance to see several of his players come through the Washington Soccer Federation where he started his coaching career. That 14-plus year career has also included work in the junior high program at Washington and Washington Catholic, as well as different travel teams and working with people involved with Olympic programs.
“I basically became a sponge in the shadows just basically watching their demeanor and how they drilled,” Bryant said. “I was able to be around people that played in college and coached in Major League Soccer.”
Bryant’s daughter, Sierra, had been playing soccer in Bloomington while attending junior high school at Loogootee when the family first moved to Washington. Jasper and Bloomington were also in the mix, but Washington was the choice.
“I knew good people in both Jasper and Bloomington, but Washington won out,” Bryant said. “For the first time in many years, my daughter’s practice was just 10 minutes away instead of an hour. One day, Gretchen Miles, who was coaching the high school team in Washington called and asked if I would like to run the junior high program. She gave me the freedom to run the program and I coached for five years.
“This spring as I had more time, one of the players on the team asked if I could come watch a tournament,” Bryant said. “I couldn’t make it, but another player sent me a club-ball schedule in Zionsville, and she wanted me to come to a game. I couldn¹t do that, but they planted some seeds. With those girls contacting me, I contacted Gene Miiller and asked if it was too late to apply. He said no, send me a resume.”
Bryant is in the process of molding the program, but believes getting started on the right foot early will be a positive.
“Getting off on the right foot is important, and we will be missing players from last year,” Bryant said. “We have some big shoes to fill, but I think we have a good crew coming back that is eager to get started.”