Opelika Girls Soccer Opens Season With Blowout Win

Photo from last season's OHS girls' soccer game against Smiths Station. photo by robert noles / the observer


With fall sports firmly in the rear-view mirror and the imminent AHSAA basketball tournament signifies the conclusion of winter sports; soccer season has officially arrived in Opelika and — according to women’s head coach Jaclyn Button — the OHS Bulldogs are poised to make an impact in their final season at the 6A level.
The hometown Dawgs backed their coach’s claims in their first match of the season, taking down Stanhope Elmore on the road by a tally of 10-0 Monday evening.

“A good 10-0,” Button said. “It was a fun one for us, a good season opener. Everybody got playing time. Our goalie got to get out of goal second half and come play a little forward for us. It was fun.”

The season-opening victory encouraged Button in her belief that the red and black has the capacity to run the table within the area and beyond.

“The sky’s the limit for us,” Button said. “I really think we have a strong core team that’s returning from last year so we can really push it this year.”

Button’s optimism stems from both her roster’s experience playing together as well as pressure added by the looming jump to a 7A classification.

“We have girls that have worked together for a long time and kind of know each other’s style of play,” Button said. “This is our last year in 6A, next year we’re moving up to 7A, so I think we can win our area in 6A and take it really far.”

As the Dawgs continue their journey throughout 2022, the group will look to seniors Phoebe Darcey and Fatima Santamaria to provide veteran leadership in the face of adversity.

“I’ve got two true seniors this year,” Button said. “Phoebe Darcey is our goal keeper, so she’s definitely a vocal leader out of the back. Another one of our defenders — Fatima Santamaria — is another senior for us. So they’re kind of both more defensive.”

Vocal leadership from the squad’s seniors will be paired with the skillset provided by a large junior class.
“We also have a lot of juniors throughout the midfield that are returners that provide strength on the field,” Button said. “Good support and communication.”
Button believes her squad’s balance in age will prove fruitful as the season carries on.

“I think a lot of that strength comes from our junior-class majority,” Button said. “With plug-ins from some seniors, sophomores and freshmen.”

Contrasting from year’s past, the Dawgs will present a 4-5-1 formation to their opponents in hopes to transition towards a heavy-attack, offense-focused unit.

“We’re trying to stay in the attack this year,” Button said. “In years past, we’ve kind of hung back and felt teams out. We said ‘let’s be the attacking team, let’s be the offensive team that puts pressure.’”
As the head coach looks forward with anticipation to the season at hand, she expressed her appreciation for the support received within the Opelika Community.
“We have a lot of good support,” Button said. “We don’t have a middle school team, but those middle schoolers pull into our JV team so we do have that middle school parent support and — of course — the Opelika High School varsity support.”

The Dawgs will be back in action on Tuesday, Feb. 15 when the group plays host to the Brookstone High School Cougars of Columbus, Georgia. Kickoff between the foes is set for 6:30 p.m. CST


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