Bulldogs' junior varsity girls' soccer team goes undefeated

While coaching soccer at Parkland College last year, Kelsie (Donley) Briggs attended Mahomet-Seymour senior Alexa Warren’s signing ceremony to become a Cobra. At the signing, Briggs struck up a conversation with M-S athletic director Matt Hensley and former M-S girls’ soccer coach Joey Gruner. That conversation eventually centered on the vacant M-S junior varsity coaching position. “The opportunity presented itself, and I couldn’t resist coming to coach at my high school,” said Briggs, a 2010 M-S graduate. “My best memories were made on this field as a player, and now they get to continue as a coach and that’s pretty amazing. I’m very blessed.” The coaching change from Parkland to M-S was better for for Briggs’ life at that time. “Parkland (coaching) was becoming very time consuming with the long away games,” Briggs said. “Between owning a Salon (Salon 105), having an almost–3-year-old (Ellie) and a husband (Cody) in the military, I felt coaching in the town we lived in with closer games would be a better fit. It definitely was!” In her first year as the M-S junior varsity coach this spring, Briggs led her team to an undefeated season at 16-0-2. “It was pretty awesome to be able to go undefeated this season,” Briggs said. “We had a few teams who really challenged us, which I think we needed to keep us grounded and working hard.” Three of those tough matches came against Lincoln, Mattoon and Urbana in back-to-back weeks. On April 10, M-S tied Lincoln 1-1 at Lincoln, and two days later, April 12, the Bulldogs defeated Mattoon 2-0. Two days later, April 14, M-S tied Urbana 0-0. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to coach such a great group of girls,” Briggs said. “They’re a very fun group to be around and coach, and they’re extremely hard working.” The girls’ junior varsity team started out 5-0 after winning the tournament championship at the Lincoln Junior Varsity Tournament (March 17). The Bulldogs defeated Centennial 6-0, Rochester 1-0 and Lincoln 2-1. “At the beginning of the season with terrible weather and unfavorable practice conditions, they still got the most out of every practice and I’ll appreciate them for that,” Briggs said. “They’re always making me laugh even though sometimes I try my best not just to keep them focused.” To start its season, the junior varsity team also knocked off Urbana 4-0 and Bloomington 3-0. “This team is incredibly coachable,” Briggs said. “They do one thing and we correct it, and I can see them working on fixing it. One thing we struggled with at the beginning of the season was crossing the ball away from the keeper and by the end of the season we were doing a much better job at slotting the ball back for a teammate to shoot.” Briggs also said the team’s overall fitness level and determination contributed heavily to the success. “Not only are the girls fit and athletic but they also have enough self-motivation and determination to push through when tired,” Briggs said. “Some games we were low on numbers and had minimal subs and the girls would just push through like it was nothing.” At the junior varsity level, Briggs tried to focus on playing as a team, as one unit with everyone playing an important role. To end the season, the Bulldogs shut out their next three opponents, including Mount Zion (2-0), St. Thomas More (3-0) and Charleston (3-0). During those last matches, the team also was able to have some fun. “One thing that made me incredibly proud as a coach is that by the end of the season every player had a goal, even our goalies,” Briggs said. “When we got down to the last four or so games of the season, we started dishing the ball out to our players who hadn’t had a goal yet in the season, most of those girls being our defenders and goalies. It was great to watch the girls work together to let their teammates get a goal.”

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