Ranked No. 1 nationally, Bartram Trail girls soccer team working toward goal of state title

The senior class of Bartram Trail girls soccer has led the Bears to an undefeated season and a No. 1 national ranking. (Drew Cromer, 2022)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – They’re No. 1 in the nation but they’re not talking about it.

The Bartram Trail girls .soccer team (9-0-2) hasn’t lost a regular season match in more than two years, and they look like a state title contender again this year. They are loaded with talent and play for each other, the way championship teams do.

The team motto has become #SHAG. Senior captain Emma Revels came up with the theme before the season began. Each letter stands for a word that the team strives to live by.

S for Selflessness. H for Humbition, the combination of humble and ambition. A for accountable and G for gratitude. When head coach Jen Rodriguez heard it, she and the rest of the team embraced it.

“I loved playing high school soccer, I loved it. When it came to club, I liked it, but I got a little bit burnt out. And I couldn’t wait for the high school season,” Rodriguez said. “And I think I had such a positive role model as a high school coach, that I just wanted to be that for other people. It’s not all about developing their skills, but life skills as well.”

The developments have brought major success on the pitch for the Bears. But the program also has seen challenges.

Last season, Bartram Trail was coming off back-to-back state championships and they were ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps. They were 18-0 and on a roll. Then came a playoff game against their rival, Creekside, a team the Bears had beaten 2-0 just 10 days earlier. But the Knights played the game of their lives in a 3-2 win, ending Bartram’s season in the playoffs.

“It will always be in the back of my mind,” Rodriguez admitted. “We’re not thinking about that right now. We’re thinking one game at a time. But that is going to be a motivator moving forward because I just everything that happened and the result and it just wasn’t really expected. But yeah, so we’ll think about that when the time comes. But right now we’re just focused on one game at a time and being at our best.”

This season, it’s been more of the same for the Bears. Nine wins, no defeats and draws against powerhouses St. Johns Country Day and Montverde Academy have Bartram again ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps.

How have they done it?

This season, senior Grace Ivey, has been the catalyst, scoring nine goals herself while creating for her teammates with 22 assists in 11 games. That is a remarkable pace.

“We’ve scored a lot of goals on corner kicks, and she takes all of our corner kicks, so probably half have come from that,” Rodriguez said. “She’s just been phenomenal. She’s such a playmaker in the middle, she sees the field so well. She’s just a phenomenal player.”

Olivia Bori leads the squad with 10 goals in 10 games. Rodriguez describes her in one word: fast.

“She just has pace that not a lot of people can keep up with. That’s one thing coaches always talk about is our speed of play, and how many fast players we have. She definitely stands out. Not a lot of players can keep up with her.”

In addition to Ivey, Revels, and Bori, two more seniors are committed to playing college soccer. Midfielder Malia Roberts and defender Anna Bachman are also going to play soccer at the next level. That’s five college-bound players on one team. That makes for a team that is tough to beat.

On Thursday, they handed Fleming Island their first loss of the season, a 5-0 dismantling. With four games to go in the regular season, including Tuesday at Ponte Vedra, there is still work to be done, but Bartram Trail won’t rest until last year’s demons are vanquished.

“Just to keep growing as a team we try to work on you know, something each day and in getting better, better at it,” Rodriguez said. For example, last week, they had trouble finishing so they worked on it, and the following game, five goals against Fleming Island. The improvement is evident, and the Bears put in the work.

Rodriguez says that the level of play in girls soccer locally has improved dramatically over the past decade and with a women’s pro team scheduled to begin play in 2025, that could launch girls soccer to higher levels locally.

“I think it will have even a bigger impact,” Rodriguez said. “These young girls are going to have other players to look up to, and they’re going to be able to go watch games where I think watching soccer gives you such an advantage as well. So just having it in this area where the young girls can be the ball girls or meet the players, they just look up to those girls so much. So just having those role models close by is going to motivate them to, to want to be there one day.”