At the start of the season, had you asked Chesapeake senior midfielder Courtney Lupinek what was new, she would probably still be answering the question to this day. New coach? Check. New position? Check. New players around her? Check.
Lupinek, who made the switch from forward to center midfield, was the only starting field player back for first-year coach Liz Farrell. Despite all the new things, it's been much of the same at Chesapeake, where the Cougars (7-4) are having another fine season with the playoffs fast approaching.
For Lupinek, who first got called up to varsity in the middle of her freshman season, it's been a year in which she has sacrificed for the better of the team and has showed strong leadership.
Set to play soccer at Towson University next year, Lupinek, who plays sweeper for her club team, maintains a 3.8 grade-point average with an interest in sports medicine. She also has been on the varsity basketball and outdoor track and field teams since her freshman year.
What has it been like as the senior captain on such a young team with so much responsibility playing center midfield?
The team just needs someone to pick them up and push them, so that's what I try to do. I try to push the girls to their limit and always do the best we can. There's a lot of pressure, but I actually feel like I do better under pressure situations. When you're just content and at ease, you can get too comfortable sometimes. I don't like that.
What has been the biggest adjustment going from forward to midfield this season?
Midfield you have to think a lot more and play with more control. It's not just straight runs. You have to take control of the ball and feed it. Up front, you run after it and you're the finisher. At midfield, you're the starter. It's more you have to be up and down ... you've got to be everywhere, which is kind of hard for me because I'm more speed than endurance.
What has been the biggest reward for you so far this season?
The girls - I'm not saying they look up to me, but I feel like we're a team. We're just together and that means a lot. I don't like individuality; it's about the team.
What was the beginning of the season like with all the change?
It was messy, a little scary. In the beginning of the season, it was like: 'Uh-oh.' But once we [tied] South River and showed we could play like that, things turned around. We just need to calm down sometimes.
What's the best advice you've received?
[Former teammate] Lacey Phillips gave me a quote recently. It was: 'Never be too little to do the big things or else you'll be too big to do the little things.' So it's kind of like you have to have balance.
What's the best advice you've given to your younger teammates this season?
Never give up. We just need to keep our heads up. Things will get bad, but you have to learn from it and be able to move forward.
Which position do you prefer playing?
I like sweeper the best. In the back, everything is right in front of you, so you can read everything and you're in the middle of it all.
If you could meet any person, who would it be and why?
I'd have to say Abby Wambach. She's amazing. She's been through it all. Soccer is a lot of my life and I know it's a lot of her life as well, so I'd like to see how it feels to be on the U.S. National Team and to play on TV and all that stuff.
What is your favorite television show?
I like Gossip Girl because it's so unrealistic, but at the same time it's also so true. It is basically teenage life right there - all gossip. It's just funny and entertaining.