After losing just two players from last year’s team, which won Litchfield’s sixth regional championship in girls soccer since 2013, the 2020 edition of the Lady Panthers was ready to hit the ground running this year. Then, COVID-19 was entered into the world’s vocabulary.
“This has been heartbreaking to say the least. The most frustrating part is the hard work training and conditioning the girls have put in and they don’t get to present that on the game field,” said Head Coach Dominique Byots. “They have been preparing since January conditioning and when the day came that we could touch a soccer ball and play, it felt as if the world ripped it from us.”
The team, which hasn’t had a losing season since 2000, was scheduled to bring back three of their four all-conference players, including senior Jordan Morgan, one of four members of the class of 2020 on this year’s team.
“The worst part is these girls are losing a year of high school soccer memories, especially for the seniors,” Byots said of Jordan Morgan, Ellen Fleming, Abby Roberts and Devan Morgan. “But each and every girl is losing a year of something they love and desire. My heart goes out to each and every student-athlete across the nation.”
While the connection on the field has been lost, and will continue to be until at least April 30, Byots says that the team is still keeping in touch through the quarantine.
“Our team chats almost every day. They are bored being stuck at home 24/7, and for the first time ever, admit to missing school!” Byots said. “We have all cried over this. The positive is that they are able to spend time with their family bonding. I love hearing that they do kick around the soccer ball, hoping and praying for the best.”
While some of the seniors will go on to play in college, the team will return a glut of young talent in 2021. Still, hopes are high that the Purple Panthers can get back on the pitch and continue the legacy of success that has been created at Litchfield.