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Housatonic Valley Regional High School forward Melody Matsudaira, a sophomore, fought for possession during the team’s last game of the season, against Litchfield High School, on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Photo by Hunter O. Lyle

Mountaineers make program history during pandemic season

FALLS VILLAGE — In a season full of questions and uncertainty, the Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS) girls soccer team made history when they were crowned as Berkshire League Champions for the second consecutive year.

 To get to this point, HVRHS Athletic Director Anne MacNeil worked closely with other regional athletic directors to plan a season that abided by Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) guidelines.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen in August and was very pleased that we were able to have a season,” MacNeil said. “And we were one of the few leagues that actually crowned champions.”

Some of the guidelines put in place by the CIAC included only two spectators per athlete, a longer preseason for extra conditioning and tournament experience (having teams play only in their own league, and using the outcomes of games when teams first met as a way to determine league champions) replacing actual playoffs.  

Senior right defender and team captain Elaine Dekker said the longer preseason lead, lack of games and limitations in practice lead to a slight drop in team morale early in the season. However, Dekker said the team found ways to enjoy themselves regardless.

“We would try to make games out of running, even though it was still running,” Dekker said, “but it would just push the girls and make it a more fun and enjoyable way of conditioning.”

Throughout the season, which started with the first practice on Saturday, Aug. 29, and concluded with a 2-0 win over Litchfield High School on Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Mountaineers cruised to a 9-0-1 record, scoring a combined 44 goals while only allowing seven to be scored against them. With this record, the Mountaineers became the first team in program history to finish a season undefeated.  

Head coach Steve Dodge attributed this year’s success, especially under such uncertain circumstances, to  how experienced and talented his upperclassmen are, noting that the four-year seniors on the team have gone 31-4 at home during their time as Mountaineers.

“My personal goal [for the season] was to grow the bond of the team more,” said Dekker, who is one of six seniors who will be leaving the team, “We’ve been playing since we were really little, and this is my last season. I just wanted to get as close to the girls as I could before our last game.”

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