The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

The student news site of Coral Gables Senior High School

CavsConnect

Cavalier Girls Soccer Captains Lead a Total Team Effort

Forming+a+circle%2C+the+Cavalier+soccer+players+stand+together+in+their+cleats.+The+captain+encourage+positive+vibes+and+good+game+play+during+a+pep+talk.+
Dimitra Boutsis
Forming a circle, the Cavalier soccer players stand together in their cleats. The captain encourage positive vibes and good game play during a pep talk.

Working towards a successful season, the girls varsity soccer team is fueled by their togetherness, believing that each teammate is an important part of the process. There are four Cavaliers who pride themselves as the captains, on and off the field. Knowing that their leadership will impact their teammates, the Lady Cavalier captains keep sprinting, passing the ball and shooting goals.

Sophomore Paz Chico  

It was not until the third grade that sophomore Paz Chico decided to join a friend in playing for South Miami United Football Club, a starting point to her love for soccer. Staying in SMUFC until she was a seventh-grader, Chico eventually made a switch over to a different club, Miami Rush Kendall Soccer Club, which she joined in eight grade and currently plays for.

Her involvement in school sports initially began in sixth grade, partaking in George Washington Carver Middle School‘s girls soccer team until it was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. For her last two years at Carver, Chico and the other girls had no available soccer team, leaving her with memories of a short lived experience, alongside a long-lasting inspiration to move forward with the sport.

“I always dreamed of getting to high school and being on a team since in middle school I couldn’t be on one. That’s definitely part of what drove me to play harder. Ever since I joined club in third grade it was super fun, and I’ve just loved playing,” sophomore Chico said.

Caught in the excitement, Chico, number 12, smiles brightly on the field during a game against Coral Reef. (Dimitra Boutsis)

As captain, Chico now has another outlook on her soccer experience, which entails more responsibility. Stepping up to the role, she leads to the best of her ability, but also takes in valuable lessons from her older captains, specifically Lenox Balzebre.

“My sister, Lucia Chico, would always say how soccer was always the best time of her high school experience. She always told me to take advantage of it, especially since it goes by really quickly. We played on the team last year together, so I’ve continued on in enjoying my moments on the team, both as captain and as a teammate,” sophomore Chico said.

Sophomore Brooke Lawson

“Our senior captain, Lenox Balzebre, and junior captain, Valentina Tomas, are the most on top of it, with setting schedules and getting everybody on foot at the right time. Me and Paz lead after them, and I feel like them two are the role models even for us, not only the rest of the team,” sophomore Lawson said.

Owning her first pair of cleats at the ripe age of four, sophomore Brooke Lawson was not accidentally placed in a soccer camp; rather, she wanted to indulge in the sport to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Soon enough, she found herself performing soccer drills and enjoying recreational soccer at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale.

Upon moving to Miami, Lawson took a more serious approach to soccer, joining the Athletic Club Miami, a club soccer team that played kids from ages seven to ten. In her tweens, from age 11 to 13, she attended Miami Shores Soccer Club. Finally, she made her most recent switch to Miami Breakers FC, the club team she plays for today.

Determined to bring out her moves during the long awaited senior night, Lawson runs after the ball, dribbling it with deliberate concentration. (Samira Martinez)

Despite her lengthy experience, this year marks Lawson’s first time ever playing for her school, an experience she hopes will bring her closer to her athletic. Eventually, Lawson aspires to go professional.

“My sister and my mom are always at my games and they support me, giving me tips and advice. I also find motivation from my teammates but also pro players, like U.S. national team players, because I want to be there one day,” sophomore Lawson said.

Senior Lenox Balzebre

Sprinting on the field at Coral Way K-8 Center, senior Lenox Balzebre discovered the sport in-house. She loved the excitement of the game and took a step forward by joining the Key Biscayne Soccer Club.

“I had just wanted to try something new and I found a group of people that I really liked and had a lot of fun. So that’s why I just fell in love with it,” senior Lenox Balzebre.

Balzebre received an opportunity to play for the Lady Cavaliers her sophomore year. Developing as a hard-working player and a stout leader, Balzebre’s experience has aided the younger girls to play hard and train as much as possible.

Shouting from the stands, Balzebre’s friends and supporters cheer her on at senior night, with their signs held high. (Samira Martinez)

“We don’t really have a process for the selection of captain, but it’s people that present leadership and those that direct incomers. We tend to gravitate towards people that always show up on time, who are always putting their full force into everything, even if it’s a simple drill or if its just running,” senior Balzebre said.

For practices, Balzebre helps maintain order and lead the girls in warmups before the coach arrives. Outside of school, she has helped plan team bonding and additional soccer time for Gables.

“Over the winter break, we had to organize our own practices, which we ended up doing at the Coral Gables Youth Center. We did self-trained drills, since we had no coach,” senior Balzebre said.

Junior Valentina Tomas

Another Coral Way K-8 Center alumna, junior Valentina Tomas spent her afternoons in middle school playing with the soccer enrichment program, offered by her old school.

“Something I take a lot of pride in is the fact that I’m from Argentina, so soccer is basically a thing that runs in the family. My brother played growing up, and I would go to play with my dad at parks, and I eventually realized I really enjoyed playing the sport,” junior Tomas said.

She joined the Gables team her freshman year, where she stood out as the junior varsity captain. Tomas played club soccer at South Miami United Football Club. In December, Tomas tried out for Miami Football Club. She was guaranteed a spot and will play for the club after Gables’ season concludes.

Reflecting on the past few years, Tomas is content with how far the girls soccer team has come. She has definitely witnessed up and downs, as the team posted a winning record her freshman year and a losing one as a sophomore.

Milliseconds before Tomas strikes the ball, she makes sure to aim and give the goal her best shot. (Dimitra Boutsis)

“This year I feel like it’s been more of us being all one team, instead of just JV and varsity. As captains, we try to make sure everyone feels included, like their all united as one,” junor Tomas said.

The captain gives pre-game advice to their teammates, stating that not every game will be easy, a piece of advice she hopes to retain with her dreams of playing collegiate.

“Before games, especially ones with really tough opponents, I just tell the team to give it their all, cause you never know what might happen, it might be a miracle. It doesn’t mean we can’t win against a great team, so I always keep a reminder that soccer is partially mental,” junior Tomas said.

Leadership from every corner of the field demonstrates the Lady Cavaliers’ commitment to playing their best each season and developing talent for years to come. Chico, Lawson, Balzebre and Tomas represent that goal, striving to finish the 2023-2024 season strong.

About the Contributor
Beatrice Stampino-Strain, CavsConnect Staff Writer
Beatrice Stampino-Strain is a sophomore in the International Baccalaureate program at Coral Gables Senior High. Following an insightful year in CavsTV, she has now started as a Staff Writer for CavsConnect, looking forward to new writing experiences. Partaking in various clubs, she serves on the boards of the International Baccalaureate Honor Society and Key Club, while also being the Vice President of the Class of 2026. More often than not, she can be seen talking to her friends or reading a book, though not at the same time (she has tried). Always wanting to bond with people, Beatrice finds herself delving into music, literature and television shows as a form of discovery to fuel her expansive curiosity of understanding. She enjoys the unsteadiness of life despite its struggle, and is always anticipating what it will bring to her next.
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