There’s a saying Doral Academy girls soccer coach Kurt Divich tells his players to remind them to not forget the moment they’re in.
“I wish you knew it was the good old days when you’re in the good old days,” he said.
Thankfully, Divich said his team is fully aware of the moment.
Doral Academy is 16-0 and the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A state girls soccer tournament. The Dragons play Silverado in a state semifinal at 10 a.m. Friday at Cimarron-Memorial.
“I’ve never had a group be so appreciative of what’s happening for them,” Divich said. “The effort I get in practice goes up every week. Their commitment to themselves to make sure they make the most of this opportunity is off the charts. They recognize the moment they’re in.”
In his first year coaching at the high school level, Divich said he was going to invest in the program to turn it around, but he was only going to do it if he got the buy-in from his players to give their full effort at practice.
He pulled aside his eight seniors asking them to set the standard he was expecting. As the season went on, he saw that buy-in.
“This year as time went on, we just kept fighting for it,” senior midfielder Mia Cordova said. “And we just went with it with all that we could to make sure that everyone knew who Doral was.”
Cordova, one of the team’s two captains, said an early win against Clark was a moment when the players started to believe they were in store for a special season.
After the win, Cordova recalled Divich telling them that he was excited about how they were playing and didn’t “have any limitations on what you can do anymore.”
“We all looked at each other and knew that we got this,” Cordova said. “From then on we went into every game very competitively and played together for one another. After that game, we knew we had changed from last year and that this was our season.”
With a team that has nine underclassmen, Divich focused on establishing chemistry between them and the seniors. He created team-bonding activities like “adopt a senior” in which the underclassmen spoiled a senior with gifts on senior night.
It didn’t take long for him to notice his players embracing one another, and it proved dividends on the field.
“Even with how short we’ve been together, barely half a year, we all just had this emotional bond,” freshman midfielder Gianna Davis said. “It brought us together and even helped us play on the field.”
Doral Academy made its biggest splash of the season by defeating defending state champion Cimarron-Memorial 3-0 in the regular-season finale, ending the Spartans’ 29-match winning streak and 38-game unbeaten streak.
A rematch could come in the state title game, as Cimarron-Memorial hosts Legacy in the other state semifinal at noon Friday.
Divich said his players are excited for the opportunity to cap their perfect season with a state championship. But he hopes their takeaways from the season go beyond the soccer field.
“You just realize you didn’t just have an undefeated season, but you have a group of women who are going to live better lives because of what they learned about each other this year,” Divich said.