Middletown High has reigned dominant over North Central I girls soccer for so long that the last time the Mustangs did not win league, the freshmen on the team were not yet in kindergarten.
The Mustangs are gunning for their 10th consecutive NCL I title and appear to have the weapons to pull it off.
After Tuesday night’s shutout against the Clear Lake Cardinals, the Mustangs (10-2-2 overall, 5-0 in league) have outscored their opponents 28-2. Scarier still for league foes? One of the Mustangs’ top scorers is a freshman.
Sophie Kucer has 16 goals on the season after Tuesday’s contest. Senior Aly Ferguson, moved this season from midfield to a striker role, has certainly made herself at home in the new position, tallying 17 goals, eight assists after Tuesday’s game.
The streak, or 10-peat, as some call it, is never far from players’ minds.
“It’s kind of a lot of pressure. You think about it every single game,” Ferguson said. “It really does play a factor in the way we practice, the way we play.”
And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“I think our roster is thriving under the pressure,” she said.
Second-year coach Lamont Kucer doesn’t shy away from talking about the streak and what it means to the school and the program. It was, after all, a topic of conversation when he was hired.
“We do talk about it and the AD and the principal talk about it. It’s something we hope to accomplish,” he said.
But if it all starts to feel a little too much, Kucer keeps it simple.
“Our job is to win league, regardless of whether it’s 10 in a row,” he said.
The Mustangs had two serious challenges to their ambitions this week. They easily dispatched Clear Lake Tuesday night and will host longtime rival St. Helena Thursday.
There is probably no team that would like to play spoiler as much as the St. Helena Saints, a team that for many years has played second fiddle to the Mustangs. And the Mustangs know it.
“They are very strong in terms of passing,” Ferguson said of their rivals. “This year, I feel like my coach has really emphasized the point.”
And Kucer is emphasizing the quality of the Saints’ game.
“Last year, when we went down and played St. Helena down there, we were lucky to tie them,” he said.
The Mustangs tied the Saints on St. Helena’s home field of synthetic turf but beat them 2-0 at home. Kucer said his team struggled to adjust to the pace of the Saints’ home field in the past, something he is trying to address this season.
“We could just not get the weight of the passes right,” he said. “We were on our heels the whole time.”
It’s a trick for the Mustangs to get time on a synthetic surface to get the feel of it, Kucer said.
“There is not a turf field in this whole county,” he said.
So the Mustangs will have to adjust and adjust quickly to the Saints’ pace if they want to come away with a crucial road win when the two teams meet again Oct. 25.