Pelham driven to use last season’s lessons to make postseason return

Published 2:19 pm Monday, February 5, 2024

By BRENNA VICKERY | Special to the Reporter

Pelham women’s soccer is on track for a great year. While the team defeated some exceptional opponents such as Tuscaloosa County and Hillcrest last season, they are looking for better results in area play this year.

The girls will face tough matchups against Briarwood and Helena, but the impressive senior class is working to ensure a successful year.

Junior Lacey Lambert led the team in points last season and is expected to take on larger roles this year after earning All-County honors in 2023.

She believes that the continuity from last year’s team has led to improved chemistry this season.

“I think our team chemistry this year has really started to grow even in the locker room, not only on the field,” Lambert said. “We’re practically playing with the same team. We only lost a few seniors last year, so it’s all the same team, barely got new people.”

Coach Brittany Pollard’s lineup had a lot of underclassmen last season, including multiple freshmen. She hopes that the experience that they got last year will help them improve on their 6-7 record in 2023.

“It’s a valuable experience,” Pollard said of playing on the varsity team as an underclassman. “You can’t just get that from playing the JV level, so having that year under our belts and playing together and getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and then building on that as a team moving forward this year.”

The team worked throughout the offseason to learn the strengths of their teammates and become a more cohesive unit. Senior Valerie Jamison believes that will help the Panthers be more effective on the field.

“Just to learn each other’s playing styles so we can play better as a team, because everybody has their own unique playing style, and if you know your teammate, you know what kind of balls they can receive, what kind they can kick,” Jamison said. “It just helps you better execute on the field.”

It is very much still a learning experience for Pelham as their young players adjust to life on the varsity team. However, Jamison and the other leaders on the team have graciously helped their teammates in their journey to improve.

“We’re ultimately all just trying to help each other,” Jamison said. “So, any criticism, it’s constructive. We’re not trying to break somebody down. We’re trying to help everybody get better.”

Improvement is one of the key goals for the Pelham Panthers in 2024 as they look to reestablish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Senior Ashvi Dawalla believes this team is driven and prepared to make an impact in Class 6A.

“This group of girls is super competitive and we are here to make our presence known in our area and come to fight for a place in the playoffs,” Dawalla said.

Pollard echoes those goals and wants nothing more than to see Pelham make its return to the postseason.

“In all honesty, I want us back in the playoffs,” Pollard said. “We had a two-year stint where we made to the Elite 8 in back-to-back years. It was very exciting, the last time we were in the playoffs. So, for me personally, it’s getting them back to that level. ‘Can we get back into the playoffs? How is that going to look as we progress through our season?’”