There has been a noticeable drop this season in the number of parents in the stands at Polk County girls soccer games – and not due to a lack of support or interest.
When Polk County opens 2A state playoff action Wednesday against Stuart Cramer, its roster will include four sets of sisters, giving the Wolverines a unique family feel that hasn’t escaped notice throughout the season.
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Sharing the field has also made for a special year that the sibling pairs won’t soon forget.
“With her being a freshman, especially since it’s my senior year, it has been a bonding thing being able to play with her for at least a year,” said senior goalkeeper Malena Roman of her freshman sister, Mireya. “It has been a good year. I wish there were more.”
“I love playing with (sophomore sister) Reese,” said senior Rhian Alley. “We never caught each other in middle school and we never played for the same club, so this is the first time we’ve played together. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Wednesday’s playoff opener in G.M. Tennant Stadium will begin at 6 p.m. All tickets will be $6, and only NCHSAA passes can be accepted.
There’s a good chance that Cramer will face, at times, a lineup featuring all eight siblings – seniors Ashton and Cameron Capozzi, junior Bella and freshman Ava Marino and the Alley and Roman sisters. None of the sisters in the four pairs play the same position, with one sister in each group typically playing forward or midfield (Reese Alley, Cameron Capozzi, Ava Marino and Mireya Roman) while the other fills a defensive role.
That undoubtedly has improved teamwork on the field while making for peace off of it.
“If we played the same position, it might be a little tougher because there would be more competition,” said Reese Alley. “She’s a center back and I’m in center midfield, so there’s not really any competition. We work together.
“I really like having her playing behind me. I like it when she comes up through the other team with me. It has brought us closer together because I’m spending a lot more time with her.”
Practices, bus rides to away games – all have given the sisters time to bond, a fact that hasn’t been lost on Mireya Roman, who has gotten to play alongside her older sibling for the first time, or Malena Roman.
“We’ve grown as players and as sisters,” Mireya Roman said. “If I have a bad game, I know I can go to her and talk to her about it. If the other team scores on her, I can be there and talk to her and try to lift her up. She’s been a role model. She knows a lot about being a high school athlete. It’s going to be really hard not having her here next year.”
“It’s definitely been an experience,” Malena Roman said. “When she played in middle school, we were usually playing or practicing so I couldn’t go to her games. It’s been good to get to see her in action on the field. I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with her.”
All siblings agreed that on-field arguments naturally occur, but are usually left there, not carrying over to interfere with life at home.
“There are always going to be arguments,” Mireya Roman said. “But not serious ones, just sister arguments.”
“We may argue, but playing together has actually been good for our relationship,” Reese Alley said. “She has set a good example for me and we’ve played well together.”
With the postseason at hand, the next loss will mark the final time the senior sisters share the field with their younger siblings. But the varsity experience has created memories that will last well beyond the last whistle.
“As a senior, I’m already emotional as it is. I cried at Senior Night,” said Rhian Alley. “Then (sophomore sister) Reese gave me a hug and I started crying more.
“I have loved playing with Reese. It has made it more fun and we’ve been more connected.”