Girls varsity soccer season off to strong start


(Courtesy Devon Johnson)

By Katherine Salz

The Branson girls varsity soccer team has returned to the field this season already with a winning record and 13 returning players.

As of Dec. 16, 2022, the Lady Bulls had a 7-0-1 overall record with 3-0-1 in league play making them first in Marin County. 

“Each player [is] bringing their own unique talents and contributions to the overall success of the team,” coach Tyler Gottschalk wrote in an email. 

Some game highlights include Riley Pearson scoring the first goal of the season at Ukiah after receiving a perfect pass from Imogen Brown. 

Two freshmen hit the net with their first high school career goals. Catrin Howell also scored in the first game, cutting inside and beating the Ukiah keeper. Sadie Saavedra scored in the opening game against Terra Linda, receiving a ball out on the right, eliminating the left back with her first touch, then proceeded to finish into the far side netting. 

The biggest showdown thus far was against Marin Academy on Dec. 14, a worthy rival who had beaten Redwood 3-2. But the Lady Bulls persevered and brought home a win.

Last season, Gottschalk wrote, the team’s cohesiveness proved most impactful with players demonstrating genuine care and support for each other during times of challenge and celebration. 

Playing in Division III of NCS, Branson began this season with a bang, earning the coveted No. 1 ranking in California Soccer Preps pre-season polls. 

The main goal for early season practices revolved around getting to know each other, learning the Branson system and style of play, determining player positions on the pitch, and discovering the best subbing patterns needed to bring home Branson wins, Gottschalk wrote in the email.

The team culture is also important for him.

“The most important thing for me is that players enjoy their experience on the team, and I strive to create an inclusive environment with support on and off the pitch” Gottschalk said. It is about building friendships, supporting each other at school plays, attending teammates’ art exhibitions, or just hanging out in the quad. 

This team cohesion was on display at the Marin Academy game.

“[It] was a good representation of the strength of our team. While we started out shaky in the first half, in the second half we all really stepped up, individually and as a team. The strength of our team lies in our ability to inspire each other to do our personal best,” Gaby Steele said.