On May 17, St. Pius X varsity girls soccer head coach Sara Schmitt won her ninth state title in the past 11 seasons. A week after the victory, we asked Schmitt about her 2019 team, the recent playoff run and the key to her program’s long-term success.
Q: How did your team grow the most throughout the course of the 2019 season?
A: Throughout the season we grew in how we finished in the attacking third. We started the season off not being able to get that last pass or touch, but at the end of the season our midfield and forwards were able to connect in that attacking third and we finished more opportunities.
Q: What will you miss most about
the 2019 senior class?
A: I am going to miss the consistency of this senior class. They were always so consistent with practice, attitudes and passion. I knew that all eight of them really wanted to play and would do whatever was needed to help the team out. I also love all of their different personalities. Working with players for four years really allows time for them to open up their shells towards me, and I think that some of them really did that this year, and their senses of humor are similar to mine so we had lots of laughs this year.
Q: What was the most fun moment
of the 2019 playoff run?
A: Helen Cherry’s goal in the last minute against Blessed Trinity to force us into overtime. It was such an intense game and we were missing chances, but her goal was so clutch, and I think allowed us to show we could face adversity.
Q: What were your thoughts, expectations and feelings going into the state championship game vs. Flowery Branch? What were your thoughts and feelings after the 6-0 victory?
A: Going into the game I knew that our team could face adversity and come back from it based on our win over Blessed Trinity. I thought that Flowery Branch was going to put a lot of pressure on us and try to force us to make mistakes. However, I knew that our attackers were going to give them trouble in the back. I felt like we were prepared and pumped to play. When we started the game and I saw how we were able to attack them and that our fitness level was too much for them, I felt like we could win the game. Once that second goal was scored, I saw some of their players look defeated and felt like we could keep going at them. Being able to keep scoring and play all of my players was a great way to end a season where everyone contributed on the field.
Q: What has been the key to the
program’s long-term success, winning a state title nine out of the past
A: This was the 12th season that I have coached at St. Pius. Every season I have gone to the state championship except 2012 when we lost in the quarterfinals. We have won nine titles and two state runner up titles. Looking back on all of this brings so many emotions into play. I have suffered a lot with players during this time, but we have also celebrated so much! When you coach girls for four years at a time, you are able to watch them grow and I can only hope that I am helping them become better people not just better players. So, in my opinion, the reason that we have been successful is that I hold my players to a high standard on and off the field. I am involved in their lives, checking on their grades, checking on their families and watching how they treat others. From my years of playing, the coaches that cared about my life were the ones that I wanted to play for and I want to emulate that in my coaching career. I want the girls to know that we are in this together, so I make sure they see me working and doing the little things.