Southport is witnessing the beginning of a tradition for its varsity girls soccer program as the Cardinals have won the most games in their history this year.
Coach Mark Harris has seen the program slowly improve every year as an assistant. Now in his first year as head coach, Southport has a 6-7-2 record.
“One big challenge was even though the team was getting better, losing was (seen as) OK,” Harris said. “The culture was we could only win so much. The biggest challenge was trying to prove to the girls that they are good team. That they can hang with these very good teams. To kinda change the mindset that losing doesn’t have to be our reality anymore.”
Southport has challenges that other teams may not face with a diverse group of girls.
“Southport is a unique program because there are so many nationalities, but we’ve embraced that,” Harris said. “We have a large Latino population on the team and approximately 24 Burmese girls. You have language and cultural barriers that you have to break. Each group hangs out with each other, and it kinda bonds us together.”
Perry Meridian is another school that has benefited from its diversity, as the boys program reach semistate last year.
Now, Harris hopes his team can get to the point where it can find similar success in the postseason. Southport looks to get its first sectional win Thursday night against Lawrence Central. The game will be played at Lawrence North after the completion of the other semifinal.
“Advancing in the tournament is something Southport has never done,” Harris said. “We’ve broken a record this year, maybe break another one.”
Senior Emily Chambers in the goalkeeper. Harris says Franklin Central transfer Mackenzie Patton worked to change the expectations of the program. Other seniors are Yaritzi Salazar, Jaclyn Speiser, Siara Velazquez, Raewyn Updike, Beth Starkey, Lissete Rogel-Torres and Ngun Doi Tial.
“They have been tremendous, really proud of them because they are ones who played on the team when the team wasn’t that great,” Harris said. “And they have gotten to see the maturation process. They have just been tremendous to coach.”