New coach leads Lady Spartan soccer to another solid season


Senior Kourtnie Kelley dribbles the ball down the field in White Station’s game against Bartlett. The Lady Spartans were ultimately defeated 0-1 after a tough game.

A new coach and the loss of star players are often indicators of a team’s rebuilding season. However, under new coach Ben Rubio, the Lady Spartans completed another solid season with a record of 8-8-1.

The season got off to a rocky start. In addition to playing more difficult teams right off the bat, the players had to become accustomed to one another and a new coach.

“After the games is when they really started clicking because they were able to see how they mesh well like in a game,” student assistant coach Rachel Wilkes (12) said.

To improve the team, Rubio targeted mistakes and sought to eliminate them.

“I think: ‘what was the mistake that the team made?’ I don’t want to see all the time the same sprawl and same mistake. And with this, we are improving,” Rubio said.

Each player had to set aside certain previous skills and habits and acclimate herself to Rubio’s coaching style. His idea was to move the ball well because he saw passing the most important component of the game—a mindset he acquired from his time playing the sport in Spain.

As the season progressed, the girls became more comfortable with each other and with their new coach. The team went on a five game winning streak, and a few matches later, they were declared the winner at halftime. In the game versus Overton, Emma Hildebrand led the team with four goals, and at halftime, the team was declared the winner. The mercy rule sent them home early as Lady Spartans had successfully pushed the goal differential to greater than nine.

“Now, we’re kind of more comfortable with playing with each other, and we were starting to play some more easy teams,” Bailey Kennedy (10) said.

After losing the leadership and talent of former seniors, the captains Emma Hildebrand and Amy Eleogram had to step up and fill those roles.

“The seniors last year, they were really good and they carried our team,” Kourtnie Kelley (12) said. “My expectation was to be a leader, and since I’m a senior, to carry the team and push them.”