Varsity girls’ soccer scores a 2021 season

After winning the Marin County Athletic League championships for the first time in eight years during the 2020 season, the 2021 girls’ varsity soccer team is looking to maintain their dominance. Due to the pandemic, the team’s usual winter season was pushed back to spring, but now, with the green light to play, the team is aiming to remain at the top of the league.

Passing the ball, Briana Salvetti looks forward to her season after winning MCALS in 2020. (Photo courtesy of Briana Salvetti)

Before the season started in April, the California Interscholastic Federation and the State prevented Redwood teams from officially training together. Therefore, the new varsity girls soccer coach, Ivan Bandov, was unable to get to know his players prior to tryouts which is important for figuring out the team chemistry. However, senior captains and four-year varsity players Maya Rembrandt and Shannon Watridge took initiative and held weekly captains’ practices before the season began. 

According to Rembrandt, captains’ practices were not super intense but were critical to establish a strong team dynamic and get touches on the ball. Along with Watridge, who is committed to New York University as an outside forward, Rembrandt is portraying her leadership abilities. 

“My role as captain is to make people feel more comfortable and supported. Especially with high school, not everyone gets to play so we want to make sure everyone is confident both on and off the field,” Rembrandt said. 

Rembrandt and Watridge’s leadership and soccer skills have greatly contributed to their teams’ success. Redwood junior Mia Hamant, the starting goalkeeper since freshman year, can attest to that. Hamant, who committed in the fall of 2020 to play for the University of Washington, credits her success not only to having the opportunities to play against competitive teams within the league but also to her captains’ motivating and effective leadership skills.

“All the upperclassmen I was playing against [as a freshman on the Redwood team] were so much better than everyone I’ve ever competed against in club [soccer]. Playing with people that are good really prepared me for the higher level training I’ll do in the future,” Hamant said. 

According to sophomore Maya Greenholz who’s been on the varsity team since last year, Hamant, as well as the other upperclassman, use their experience and skill to set a high standard for the rest of the team.

Riley Anderson puts in the work practicing for her upcoming season while dribbling the ball.

“I think the team is going to be really strong, we have a lot of juniors and seniors that played really well last year and are definitely key players on our team. We can definitely do as well as we did last year [when we won the championships],” Greenholz said. 

Although they’ve had to endure COVID-19 restrictions, the girls have learned to adapt quickly. In the past three years, the team has had four different coaches.

Despite the change, according to junior Briana Salvetti, the team is optimistic about having Bandov as their coach.

“Transitioning coaches wasn’t a struggle for us [in the past], we kept going, kept pushing, so I feel like we will do just as well with Ivan,” Salvetti said.  

Despite the fact that it is his first season as head coach, Bandov attended many games last year and has coached some of the girls through Marin Football Club (Marin FC) and the Olympic Development Program (ODP). Bandov stated that with his experience, he will help the team continue their hot streak.

“I’m super excited — it’s a great program with a great history. [When] I went to some games, it was definitely one of the stronger teams in the county. I’m ecstatic to work with the group of players this year and going forward,” Bandov said. 

The girls’ varsity soccer team in 2020 after winning MCALS. (Photo courtesy of Briana Salvetti)

Not only is Bandov extremely qualified as a coach, but he also has a unique style of coaching that he claims will help win the league. With his eight years of previous coaching experience, as well as currently coaching Marin FC and ODP, Bandov looks to improve the girls’ skills both individually and as a team. He believes the harder his players collectively work towards the same goal, winning, the more enjoyable the game is. 

With no MCAL playoffs to look forward to this year, the team is excited to play their rival teams, Tamalpais High School and Branson High School. Both will be top contenders for the title of winning the most games; Redwood lost the 2019 championships to Branson in penalty kicks and edged out Tam last year in a 3-1 win. The games against Redwood’s rival teams have proved to be the most competitive and will be crucial games in this year’s setting.

With COVID-19 taking away their ability to win an MCAL pennant, the seniors are looking to take advantage of their shortened season as a final chance to succeed. Through the strategic leadership of their new head coach, captains and the strong team dynamic, the girls’ will likely be a tough competitor to beat.