Following the trail of the Pink Panthers

The Pink Panthers celebrate their achievements in the 2023 soccer season. Courtesy photo.
The Pink Panthers celebrate their achievements in the 2023 soccer season. Courtesy photo.

By Kelly Hadsell 

First-time coaches Kelly and Susan Hadsell brought fans, misters and Super Soakers to practice to cool down this hot group of kids. At first, we knew we had good players, but little did we know we had great players just waiting to show how good they really are. 

As the season progressed, they made a name for themselves, letting their game play show how good they play as a team. 

When the score was in our favor, we would move our stronger players to the defense position and give our other players a chance to earn some points, and they did. Just about every team member scored at least four goals this season. In some games when we had scored enough goals to take the win, we told them all to just kick the ball back to the other team and let them have a chance. 

Little did we know we had a long season ahead of us, with 12 regular-season games and a record of 11 wins and 1 loss putting them in the No. 1 position going into playoffs. 

They kept the wins alive and took home first place in their age group, thus earning an invitation to the Santa Clarita-area playoffs. 

They kept their hearts in the game and took home second place, earning another invitation to play in the Central California Playoff in Bakersfield. 

We were down two girls due to injury and illness. With only seven of nine girls on the field, we had no substitutions or time to rest on the sideline. We hoped for the best and these kids delivered. I told them that if they won the last game of the day I would treat them all to Kona Ice. They won all three games on day one and advanced to the semifinals and finals.  

Game one of two was a hard-fought game. The Pink Panthers scored first, early in the first quarter, and held off the hard charges of their opponent only to give up a goal in the last seconds of the game, forcing a shootout, where we did not come out on top, thus losing the game, 2-1, and putting us in position to play for third and fourth. 

In the finals for third and fourth place, these kids were very tired and had a hard time keeping up, but their hearts came alive when one of their teammates who was out due to injury showed up but could not play, at halftime, and brought the team alive to yet another victory, taking home third place in the Central California regional playoffs. 

To play a tournament of 16 top teams in all of Central California and earn third place is a remarkable achievement, playing a total of 19 games with a record of 17 wins and 3 losses and a total seasonal goal count of 140 goals scored and 33 goals given up. 

We teach these kids to play the game of soccer, but we coach them as individuals and show them a better way to do what they love. As a coach you should never tell your player that they are doing something wrong — it’s your job to correct, coach and teach in a positive manner. 

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