ORLANDO — There are no banners hanging for the girls soccer program at Dr. Phillips — no district titles, no Metro Conference championships, no regional tournament success.
In a school well documented with athletic tradition and excellence, that can be a little disheartening.
But, to this point at least, that is changing for the Panthers this winter. The girls soccer team rocked Jones on Dec. 4, 9-0, just two days after beating Ocoee, 8-0, for their eighth and ninth consecutive wins.
The nine victories is a program record, meaning that, a little over halfway through the 2014-2015 campaign, Dr. Phillips (9-2-1) is already adding to the record books.
“The school has such an amazing athletic history, and to be able to (have girls soccer) be a part of that and have our name written down (for the winning streak), it’s just surprising,” senior midfielder Emily Funston said. “It’s amazing that this team of girls can work so hard to achieve that.”
Head coach Joel Dobrowolski is in his third season leading the program after coaching the boys team at Dr. Phillips for six seasons, during which time the Panthers won two Metro titles. Dobrowolski knows better than any of his players just how rich the tradition on campus is and said it is imperative that his program catch up to some of the school’s other programs.
“For this program, I would consider my time at the helm a success if we’re able to bring home the first championship of what we hope to be many,” Dobrowolski said. “I’m trying to establish a tradition with this program.”
A season ago, the Panthers went 8-11-2. Two years ago, when the team’s current seniors were sophomores, Dr. Phillips went 9-13.
So what’s different this winter?
“Honestly, it’s just the cohesion and the relationship between us,” senior defender Catherine Moffitt said. “Just seeing us progress and getting better and better each year, it makes me so happy.”
That cohesion took root even before this season began, Dobrowolski said.
“We’ve put in the work in the offseason,” Dobrowolski said. “We had more girls playing club soccer this year. We did spring training with the girls; we did summer training; we did fall conditioning.”
The third-year coach also believes the wins are begetting more wins as his girls increasingly become more confident.
“That’s part of why the wins keep coming — it’s the confidence factor,” Dobrowolski said.
Although some of the schools included in the winning streak are not known as soccer powerhouses, victories over rival Olympia and Trinity Prep stand out as significant. The girls also are proud of the goal differential over the winning streak — the Panthers have outscored opponents 47-1 over the past nine games, and the defensive element is the best part, Dobrowolski said.
“Only allowing one goal in nine games — my credo for the past three years has been, ‘We defend first,’” he said. “The play of our senior goalkeeper Sarah Kollas (eight shutouts so far this season), it’s just been lights-out.”
Dr. Phillips took on Montverde on Tuesday after press time — a tall task against a team that is 15-0-1 so far this season.
The Panthers return to action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, when they host Wekiva, the first part of a back-to-back. Dr. Phillips will take to the road at 5:30 p.m Friday to do battle with The First Academy.
Whether the streak is still alive by the end of the week or not, what’s important for the Panthers is that they turn their good play into playoff success for the first time in program history.
“We’re on our way,” Funston said. “We’re a good team with good players, and we work hard.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].