Ella Shannon played such a key role on the 2019 state-semifinalist Chesapeake girls soccer team as a freshman that coach Kevin Keeter expected she’d be the force that sustained them. Then, coronavirus took a hammer to her sophomore year. Now a senior, Shannon has eyes on bringing the Cougars up to that level again – and higher.
Shannon recently spoke with The Capital about the upcoming season (questions and answers have been edited for clarity):
Your freshman year you were so close to a state final the semifinal loss was heartbreaking. You know for you this is your last year to get back to that level. What do you think you have to do this year to lift the team back to that position?
I think our team definitely has a lot of returners, and from our JV team last year, they were so good, so we’re bringing up players from them, too. I think they can make an immediate impact this year. I think team bonding is so important for us this year, getting everyone close and working super hard.
A lot of teams, especially fall and winter, struggled because of the pandemic. After you lost people, development was kind of tricky. Do you feel like now after you’ve had a full year to rebuild and play full games again, do you feel like you guys are back in a position to go to the top of the county?
Definitely. During the week, for speed and agility, we all meet up at the fields. We run drills and stuff like that, and then we do 7-v-7s. I feel like everyone who partakes is really committed to it. That’s what’s gonna help us win.
So you had [2019 Player of the Year] Ashley Chew to look up to your first season. Have you found maybe you take some of the things you saw her and the other seniors do as a senior yourself now?
Seeing them be role models, I’m definitely trying to do that with the younger players as much as I can, so as they get older, they can fill into that position. I feel it’s so important. Last year, we had like two freshmen, and one played with me. It felt like how me and Ashley were connected, I feel like you gotta really work together and get to know that person well, get close to them. Know where they’re gonna pass. I feel like that’s important.
So it’s hard to know before games start for sure, but where do you see Chesapeake fitting in with the county this year?
I think we’ll be pretty high this year. We only lost four people. I definitely feel like the JV players, some good freshmen coming in this year will make an immediate impact. We’ll get it this year. I’m really looking forward to a state championship run, that’s really what I’m looking to.
I remember when I was making the All-County team four years ago, Kevin, your coach, said ‘Ella’s really going to build over the next four years.; And obviously, you lost that season.
Yeah that was such a bummer because we did not lose anyone except Ashley and Leia Black. People come up. We were just getting better and better.
But for you, now that you’re in your final year, how would you characterize the way you’ve built into the player you are now?
I’ve definitely put in the extra work. My whole high school career, a state championship has been what I’ve been wanting. I’ve been telling my team, like, ‘Let’s meet at the field, let’s put in the work.’ Like, really getting everyone on board. One person can’t do it. If everyone wants that, has that same motivation and drive, it’s good.