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The Demon Tattler

The student news site of Santa Fe High School

The Demon Tattler

The student news site of Santa Fe High School

The Demon Tattler


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Demon Girls’ Soccer: Eye on the Goal


The Demon Varsity girls’ soccer team has been a powerhouse on the pitch for the past couple of years, reaching the State championship in both the 2021 and 2022 seasons, thereby making it further than ever before in school history. This season they’re off to a 9-0-1, as of Sept. start, and are looking to win it all. 

Head coach Justin Najaka has faith in the team: “This varsity season, we have a very strong team, strong players,” he said. “We have really good opportunities to play well and represent the school.” In 2022, Coach Najaka was named the Girls’ Competitive Coach of the Year and the US Youth Soccer Top 4 Coach in the nation. 

It’s inevitable to lose players to graduation in high school sports, and the turnover creates new challenges each season. Several key players graduated last year, such as Molly Wissman, Jazzy Gonzalez, and Tatiana Winter, so it’s been critical for returning players to rise to the occasion. 

Senior defender Makayla O’Farrell reflected on this heightened responsibility: “I think we’re doing really good, despite losing a lot of key players. The new captains have stepped up to be leaders and filled the missing roles.” 

The team is driven by the speedy, skilled, and physical four-cylinder attack unit led by senior captains Asha Smelser and Lily Earnest in the midfield, and upfront Elsa Smith with junior UNM soccer commit Laila Carter on the left wing. 

The offensive engine is averaging 5.3 goals per game and has a +49 goal differential through ten matches, according to MaxPreps

While the team has stepped up in new ways and new leaders have emerged on and off the field, players agree that their toughest battles are still to come. 

“We’re doing pretty well – we’re a good team,” said freshman defender Amelia Smith. “We’ve played weaker teams, so our competition is coming up, but we’re on a good track right now.” 

Perhaps most impressive about the team’s hot start is the fact that Coach Najaka considers this season to be a rebuilding year in many ways for both Varsity and JV.

“I think we’ve played very well so far, [but] it’s going to be a lot harder from here on out,” he said as the Demons approached the midseason mark. “We need to find a way to stay motivated and focused, and play to the best of our abilities.” 

The Demons have eleven remaining regular season games, including match-ups with some of their toughest district opponents, including Cleveland High School. 

This 2023 team is well-coached, confident, has excellent chemistry, and definitely knows how to get the ball into the back of the net. They have all the elements needed to get to State, and maybe even walk away with the championship.

The Demons take on district adversary Cleveland High School at home on Oct. 2.  

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    Lynn AtkisonOct 2, 2023 at 5:07 pm

    Great, detailed, well-written article by Autumn Moore. She writes like a real sports journalist.
    Thanks so much!