Wellington High School Girls Soccer Team Wraps Stellar Season

The Wellington High School girls varsity soccer team.

The 2021-22 high school soccer season is now complete, and the girls varsity soccer team from Wellington High School can remember the stellar season with great pride while using it as a motivator for next year and beyond.

This year’s team, led by first-year head coach Ashley Parrett, had an outstanding campaign filled with many superlatives: a 15-3-2 record, 12 shutouts, a district championship and a berth in the Class 7A regional finals. According to Parrett, next year’s team will be motivated by the simple slogan “be better.”

When the horn sounded after the Class 7A, Region 3 final between the Wolverines and the Boca Raton High School Bobcats, the scoreboard said it all: Boca Raton 1, Wellington 0. As crushing as that loss may have been, it will serve as a motivator for the WHS team going into next season. In fact, it already has.

“We’ll start summer conditioning in June, and that will get us started for next season,” said Parrett, who was a soccer player at Cincinnati Christian University.

This year’s team started strong and fast. In its first 11 games, the team had nine wins and two ties. As a unit, Wellington scored 41 goals and allowed just eight.

Six of those wins were shutouts, led by sophomore goalkeeper Emma Filice.

“She was amazing for us this season,” Parrett said.

The Wolverines didn’t stumble until Jan. 11, when they lost 2-1 to William T. Dwyer High School.

Wellington closed out the regular season with a pair of home shutouts against Jupiter High School and the Dreyfoos School of the Arts, which gave Parrett’s squad some momentum going into Class 7A, District 11 postseason tournament.

Wellington took care of business in the district tournament with a pair of 8-0 mercy rule victories against Forest Hill High School in the semifinals on Feb. 1 and Royal Palm Beach High School in the district final on Feb. 3.

That district championship guaranteed Wellington at least two home games in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s single-elimination Class 7A, Region 3 tournament that started on Feb. 8 against West Boca Raton High School. The game was a rematch of a regular season game where Wellington prevailed 4-2 back on Nov. 29. Rematches are never easy, especially when the second game is a playoff.

“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” Parrett recalled.

Thanks to a second-half goal by senior midfielder Tyler Vance, Wellington prevailed 1-0.

The second game of the regionals was another rematch. This time, Park Vista High School visited Wellington for the semifinal match on Feb. 11. Back on Jan. 5, Wellington traveled to Boynton Beach to play the Cobras, winning 1-0. This time, Wellington scored early and often. After 80 minutes of play, Wellington was the runaway winner, 7-0. In that game, five different players scored goals, led by sophomore Hannah Pahl, who bagged a hat trick. Parrett was not surprised that her team played so well.

“Our coaching staff gave them a pep talk before the game and told them the expectation that they could do well,” Parrett said. “We had some momentum coming off that win against West Boca Raton.”

Four days later, on Feb. 15, Wellington traveled to Boca Raton to play the Bobcats in the regional final. This was another rematch from the regular season. Back on Jan. 13, Boca Raton won 3-0. But rematches are always more competitive. This game was no different. Up for grabs was a berth in the final four of the Class 7A girls state soccer tournament.

According to Parrett, it had been about eight years since the Wellington girls soccer team had last played in a regional final.

Parrett and her two assistant coaches — Haley Jenkins and Mario Rodrigues — reminded their team how good they were and that they were fully capable of defeating Boca Raton.

“We had nothing to lose and everything to win,” Parrett said. “I told our team that the winner would be the one that played harder and gave the best effort.”

The conditions for the game were far from ideal, as the winds were blowing at 40 miles per hour, and the mercury in the thermostat was dropping.

“It was very windy and cold that night in Boca Raton,” Parrett recalled.

Despite having the wind at their back in the first half, the Wolverines could not score a goal, but neither did Boca Raton.

However, with 20 minutes left in the second half, Boca Raton did a quick corner kick. The ball was kicked toward the goal and deflected off the leg of a Wellington defender, and ended up at the back of the net, beyond the grasp of Wellington’s goalkeeper. Despite being down 1-0, Wellington responded.

“We played hard in the last 20 minutes, despite having the wind in our face, and we never gave up. We kept attacking,” Parrett said.

But Wellington’s efforts did not produce the necessary equalizer.

Looking back on the season that produced a 15-3-2 record, Parrett has singled out the key performances of her four seniors: Tyler Vance, Isabella Esteves, Aileen Aguirre, and KerryAnne Farrell.

“Tyler was one of our team captains,” Parrett said. “She was an attacking midfielder who was always upbeat and always had a sense of urgency.”

“Isabella was a central defender for our team,” Parrett said. “She was an anchor of our defense, always displayed a sense of motivation, and always had her head in the game.”

“Aileen was our top goal scorer with 15 goals and four assists,” Parrett said. “She was always looking to improve.”

“KerryAnne was one of our starting forwards,” Parrett said. “She scored eight goals this season.”

Looking back, Parrett was cautiously optimistic that her squad would have a winning record, but the main reason why the team had an excellent season is because of an attitude change where everybody focused more on “we” rather than “me.”

“Our biggest challenge was to truly play as a team and to play for one another,” she said.

Parrett had strong words of praise for the help of her two assistant coaches.

“Haley Jenkins was my sidekick, who provided an extra sense of urgency to our players,” Parrett said. “Mario Rodrigues was a great psychological coach for our team, who improved each player’s mental approach to the games.”

With only four seniors graduating, it’s up to the returning girls to lead by example and “be better” next year.