Heading into the 2016 soccer season, Kimball Union’s Girls Varsity team knew they had a dynamic team. Led by Coaches Dan Weintraub and Murray Dewdney, the girls’ scrimmaged and tied a much larger school, St. Paul’s, and kicked off their official season with a six-game winning streak. Their first loss came after the unimaginable loss of a friend and teammate due to a tragic car accident. The 0-1 loss to peer school Brewster was overshadowed by the overwhelming support and admirable sportsmanship of the Bobcats.
“Obviously this is such a terrible tragedy that happened to us but in the end it really brought us together,” said Captain Julia ’17. Janie’s passing strengthened the bond between the members of this team and the rally cry for the season became #play4Janie. “Moving forward afterward was hard, but knowing that’s what she would have wanted motivated us,” remarked Captain Charlotte ’17.
The team marched forward one day at a time, but something extra special emerged from a 4-4 tie versus another much larger school, Phillips Exeter Academy. After quickly finding themselves in a 0-3 hole within the first fifteen minutes of the game, the Wildcats ended on a 4-4 tie. “Every bit of everything they had, they poured into it,” commented Coach Weintraub. “I’ve been coaching high school soccer since the 1980’s, and I’ve never experienced anything like this season. So much despair and heartbreak and love. This is an extraordinary group of young women.” They ended their season with a 16-2-2 record and entered the NEPSAC Championship Tournament ranked fourth.
Weintraub explained, “The three games we played in the playoffs were against three great teams, and it was literally a force of love that the kids had for each other and for Janie that was behind everything that happened on the field.” Captain Charlotte ’17 recalled that “winning wasn’t really on our minds. Playing hard and playing for Janie was. Mr. Weintraub told us that the strength we had brought our community was already a win.” Captain Ella ’17, who will play soccer at UVM next fall, remembers, “It was so cool to know that we did it all for Janie. I feel like it is rare to even win the championship but under these circumstances it was really special.”