Women’s Soccer Wins State Championship – Pre-Game Interview with Coach Hirsch


Ethan Rezer, Sports Co-Editor '23

I just wanted to start off by saying congratulations to the Nighthawk soccer team! Our outstanding women’s soccer won the OHSAA State Championship game 1-0 against Ottawa-Glandorf High School located in Ottawa, Ohio. Elizabeth Zimmerman ’24 scored the winning goal while goalie CJ DeBra ’23 had six saves.

Our women’s soccer team had previously gone to the state championship five times within the last seven years, winning in 2018 and 2019. Departing seniors Sami Hess, CJ DeBra, Alexia Lander-Vegas, and Sydney Bortz will be missed, but we are all confident that the team’s success will continue far into the future.

This interview took place before the Nighthawks returned to the Women’s Soccer State Championship game. I talked with longtime soccer coach and Head of the Middle School, Coach Hirsch, to review the season and the success of the program in the past several years.

Interviewer: What’s your thought process going back to state with the team for the fifth time in seven years? How are you feeling?

Coach Hirsch: Couldn’t be more excited for the 2022 team. Every year is different – and people forget that there were 28 other years in my career where we didn’t make it. It never gets old! This is the goal when you start the season to play for a championship – some years things work out, and other times it doesn’t. The excitement is the same – nothing better for our community.

Interviewer: In your opinion, what sets this 2022 team apart from the other state championship competitors you’ve coached?

Coach Hirsch: This team has improved more from August to November than any team I’ve coached. We needed the regular season to figure out what worked for us – we adjusted and changed. We dealt with injuries, and different players stepped up with their best soccer in the tournament. It takes a TEAM – and not a group of individuals. This team really gets that TEAM comes before I.

Interviewer: How has the prior postseason experience, both in the coaching staff and on the roster itself, contributed to your success this season?

Coach Hirsch: The coaching staff made a pact together to work harder than we have ever worked in past years. I have the best assistant coaches – Mr. Brandt, Ms. Woods, and Ms. Robinson.

Interviewer: What areas would you say the team has grown in since last year that helped bring you back to state?

Coach Hirsch: The younger players had to step up, and the senior leadership had to lead. The four seniors have been incredible after replacing the Class of 2022. We needed to find a variety of scorers and not rely on one person. This has been a big reason for our success – multiple players can put the ball in the back of the net.

Interviewer: What have you learned as a coach since your first year coaching here?

Coach Hirsch: I learn more every year. Like teaching, you can’t stay the same… you have to adjust to the new styles and ways. Ms. Woods says that I have mellowed over time since I coached her as a CCDS student. I think I know my players better and adjust to what the current team needs. I used to yell and scream when I was young! Ha – now I’m just older and wiser.

Interviewer: Obviously, the entire team from the 2016 CCDS state runner-up performance has graduated and left the school, and yet the program has continued to thrive since then. How do you approach coaching a new team every season with the same goal of winning the state championship in mind?

Coach Hirsch: The seniors were state champs as freshman in 2019 and made it back to the state in 2020, where we finished as the runner up. 2020 was a bummer because we didn’t have our fans at the game because of COVID, so the experience was different.

Interviewer: To what extent does student leadership play a role in the team? How do coaches and student leaders collaborate to create a team environment?

Coach Hirsch: Senior Leadership is HUGE for any team! They have to be able to connect to all 33 girls. The Class of 2023 has done an incredible job!

Thanks to Coach Hirsch for the interview, and great things are coming for STATE CHAMPION Nighthawks girls’ soccer! Go Nighthawks!