Rangers’ Girls Soccer Senior Night

On February 7th, 2018, Redwood recognized their four seniors at their final WYL game against Mt. Whitney with a win of 5-0. This concluded their regular season with a 17-4-4 overall record and 11-0-1 WYL record to clench the league title for the 7th year in a row. They begin playoffs next week for DI and are told who they will face off first on Monday. Jason Vieira and his brother Jeff have coached Redwood’s girls varsity soccer team for seven years now and has yet to lose a league title.

Redwood graduated a majority of their team last year only leaving 4 seniors this year. These seniors are Alexis Contreras, Ckalysta Hutchings, Julianna Lua, and Kaydee Keller. These girls were also a part of the 2017 Valley Champions team.

Ckalysta Hutchings played 4 years for Redwood, 2 years on JV and 2 years on varsity as a midfielder. She said her favorite memory with the team is “practice, I love going. I love hanging out with everyone on the team and having something to say to each other, it makes running easier by running together and talking.” Towards her last few games of her career, she says, “it’s sad & happy, happy end of a new chapter, I’ve been doing it for 4 years…it’s bittersweet.” “Warm ups. everyone always being excited and happy, making fun of Vieira or Jeff, being with each other. It’s interesting because we’re in each other’s life for 4 months but I’m going to miss having that constant group of friends around me, all our inside jokes, spontaneous ideas,” is what Hutchings is going to miss most about being on the team.

Team captain and 4 year varsity defender, Alexis Contreras voices her thoughts about her experiences over the past few seasons with Redwood. She said her favorite memory is the end of each season when the team has their banquet saying bye and remember the year they all had together. “I’m sad, I usually say bye to my seniors but now i’m saying bye to Vieira, Jeff & my school. They’ve always been there when others graduate. But now it’s my turn to leave.” What she’s going to miss most about the team is “before the game team huddles, looking at who’s talking, and the small group of starting 11 who are setting the tone for the game. It’s a moment for everyone coming together & knowing what to do.” Contreras plans to play for Fresno City College for two years then transfer from there to a bigger university.

2 year varsity forward, Julianna Lua, was not able to play this season but still enjoyed every part of being on the team. She said, “because of my most recent surgery, I wasn’t able to play but being a part of the team gave me opportunities to watch over practice & be a team mom. I admire V for keeping me on the team and being a part of the valley champs team and clenching WYL with them.” She describes to me the energy and enthusiasm the team brings and how they bring it from far away too.

Kaydee Keller, 3 years varsity midfielder says, “It’s always been a big part of my life & I’m glad to be finishing with such a great team…winning valley last year, having Vieira and Jeff as coach, and all the great girls get to meet.” She tells me that she’s going to miss  the family part of being on the team, waiting until practice to tell each other things they’ve been holding in all day, and how everyday happens to be fun and never go wrong.

Together the seniors said “we’ve had a really great group of girls, they never give up. There’s been rough games but we always pull through, not letting the score get to us, not giving up to each other, always having faith in each other even if someone’s having a bad game. We don’t yell but instead we talk to each other by helping. It’s been fun.”

Jill Nelsen,’19, is a team captain along with Alexis and since Nelsen’s freshman year, they’ve grown very close. She said she’s definitely going to miss all of them but she wanted to shout out her girl “Jim” (Alexis) for always having her back and “holding down back line” (defense). She tells me she’s going to miss “playing with them…many memories and just them being there to support me, each being a true ranger on the team.”

Brianna Lopez, ’19, has played varsity for two years but has grown with these girls also. She told me, “What I’m going to miss most is their leadership skills on the field and ability to bring everyone up when we’re down because they’ve been in tough situations.” She refers to the seniors as “the backbone of the team” and next year’s team is just going to have to rebuild from it. “The team won’t the same without them. we’re going to have big shoes to fill.”

Coach Vieira has grown a great relationship with each of his players that come through the program but these girls are special to him because they were a part of his favorite memory, winning Valley for Redwood. He said in future seasons it’s going to be different without them because “I’m going to miss them as people, I’ve loved having them on the team. The younger girls will look up to them and they’ve  implied a legacy of winning the right way.” Vieira told me that they’ve been a great impact on this year’s team, “because of their leadership. A couple of them have been around for many years and when they were younger they learned the expectations. They learned by showing the girls the right way to prepare before games and have inspired the future players.”

Finally he wanted to say on behalf of the seniors, “Thank you, I know I ask a lot when we have 5 am practice but for the most part you don’t complain, so I thank you girls for putting so much heart into the program.”

Read more about Redwood Girls Soccer in this great article from the Visalia Times Delta!

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