The history of the Crook County girls soccer team has been bleak.
“We always wanted to win, but after losing after so many times, we never expected to win. So then we just were OK with losing,” said senior captain Makenna Duran.
Zero postseason appearances in 31 years of existence. A recent 57-game losing streak.
“You just got used to it,” said senior captain Paige Stewart.
Zero seasons with a winning record.
“They’re used to being the underdogs. They’re used to losing games,” said head coach Mary Buell.
A streak of zero league game victories in eight years.
Historically bad stats. But history is exactly what those stats are. They’re done. Finished. In the past.
This year the cowgirls finished with a winning record (8-6), won five league games, set records for most goals in a season, fewest goals allowed in a season and finished with their highest ever state ranking in school history at No 14.
And now they’re not only in the postseason, but they get to host a playoff game. If they win, they head to state.
“I am so excited to be part of the history,” Duran said.
“It’s kind of unbelievable,” said Stewart .”When we won our first game last season, it was the very last game of the season. We cried. A lot of girls cried because we didn’t see that in our future. And to come from that win and to have multiple wins this season, it’s just been amazing.”
For Duran and Stewart, the drastic turnaround was slightly unexpected, but not unwelcome.
“I did not expect this season to go the way it did. It has. We won our one game last season, but then that was my first high school win, and so this was super unexpected,” said Duran.
“We had skill. We just didn’t know how to put it forward,” Stewart said.
The players attribute much of the success to second-year head coach Mary Buell and her coaching staff.
“To have the support of three or four new coaches, it’s nice to get the attention that we deserved,” Stewart said.
“She knows us each on a personal level.” Duran said. “So it’s not just about soccer. She always checks in with each of us on how we’re doing outside of soccer. And then we have study sessions, so it’s just nice to have someone that cares about us because then we want to come to practice every day.”
As for Coach Buell, she set her sights on changing the culture and the mindset of her players and program as quickly as possible.
“I’ve always told the girls we’re working on building a winning mindset. And a winning mindset isn’t what’s on the scoreboard. It’s not how many games we win, how many games we lose. It’s coming in and giving everything 100% effort. Learning from everything that you possibly can,” Buell said.
What’s that overused sports cliché. It’s not how many times you get knocked down, but rather how many times do you get back up? Well, the Cowgirls are back up.
“These girls don’t stop fighting. And so whether they have a winning record or a losing record, that’s just the mentality of this community in the school,” Buell said.
The history may have been bleak and the future is bright.
“Win or lose, whatever happens Saturday, we have so much to celebrate and be excited about,” Buell said.
UPDATE: The Cowgirls won their play-in game over Klamath Union, 1-0, to advance to the state playoffs. They fell to North Marion in their first-round playoff game, 1-0.