By Owen O'Brien
It was just one victory, but the Hempstead girls soccer program hopes it is a sign of good things to come.
The Tigers won for the first time in almost three years when it beat Westbury, 1-0, on Sept. 12. The team's last win came on Oct. 2, 2019. Coincidentally, that was also a 1-0 victory over Westbury.
Senior defender Jasmin Arias, who scored the lone goal in this season's win, is a four-year varsity starter and has been a team captain for the past three seasons. She said the team's hard work and perseverance is finally paying off.
"This is a beginning of a new era in Hempstead,” Arias said. “I knew we had a purpose for coming to practice and all these games. I knew there were going to be better days in the future.”
Better days indeed. The team has been through a rough stretch these past few seasons. Hempstead played only one game in the 2020-2021 school year due to a COVID outbreak within the program. With a lack of experienced players, the team finished 0-9 in the 2021-22 season.
Arias' goal came on a penalty kick midway through the first half.
“I felt a lot of pressure, but I just told myself to calm down and it was my time to shine,” Arias said. “There was a lot going on in my mind, but I just had to calm myself and say, ‘I got this,’ and this will lead our team to victory. and I just took a deep breath and the ball just went in.”
Arias said that while it was a thrilling moment, there was still a lot of time remaining in the contest and she wanted to motivate her teammates to keep pushing for the victory.
“Once we scored that goal, the motivation just went up,” Arias said. “We didn’t feel like we wanted to give up. We just kept fighting until the end, our coach kept motivating us, all the parents, too. They were just telling us we can do this and there’s a purpose to winning this game.”
Coach Eduardo Espinoza, in his second full season as head coach, called it a "dream come true" to see the program record an early-season victory and hopes it gives the players more confidence the rest of the year.
"To get a result like this, in the fashion they did it," Espinoza said, "I couldn't be happier for them.”
Arias conceded it was tough over the last few years to train with the lack of success on the field. But she feels a difference this fall.
“It can be mentally and physically draining because sometimes you can go on the field and you're like, ‘We haven’t won in so many times, this doesn’t have a purpose,' " she said. “But once you win a game ..... you just think, ‘We won this game and if we won this game, we can keep going and win more games. It has a purpose.”