PLEASANTVILLE – The Pleasantville High School girls soccer team used to take losing in stride. When you’ve lost 60 straight games, losing becomes natural and matter-of-fact, a part of the every-day routine.
So when the Greyhounds beat Pennsauken Tech 5-1 on Monday, Sept. 18, snapping a 61-game losing streak dating back to 2013, it was hard to put the sensation into words.
“It was like a surprise,” said senior Catherine Palomo. “Because we had been getting better, we’ve been getting closer. But that one win … “
That one win stands alone like a shining beacon of progress. The Greyhounds didn’t immediately build on it, losing by a lopsided score Wednesday, Sept. 20 to nearby rival Holy Spirit, the defending South Jersey Non-Public B champion.
But for once, the Pleasantville girls are looking ahead to potentially winnable games, such as a Sept. 29 meeting with Cape May Tech, and a chance to avenge a tough overtime loss earlier this season.
“I hope it doesn’t take as long (to get another win),” Palomo said.
"They’re actually looking forward to games," said coach Scott Rulon. "They're saying, 'Who are we playing?' They're finally talking about it. It’s changed a lot. Let’s hope it keeps going."
Junior Wendy Gonzalez scored three goals in the win. Sophomore Wendy Morales scored two. Goalie Breseida Olivera, also a sophomore, had 11 saves.
“It felt really good, because we’ve tried so hard for those three years,” Gonzalez said. “I was so happy. Soccer is a passion to me.”
The girls said they’ve always had fun playing the game, win or lose. One victory won’t change that. “It’s mostly about having fun and working together,” said Palomo. “We’re a family. Corny, but that’s what we are.
"It’s gotten frustrating at times, because we try our hardest every day, since we practice so much," Palomo said. "I think we earned that win. I’m happy for our coaches the most, because they put their time into us.”
Rulon, who re-started the program in 2013, deflected the credit back to the girls.
“For my seniors that have been with me four years, and some juniors for three years, it’s finally nice that we’re there,” Rulon said. “It’s nice that we’re competing. We’ve been in four games this season, with two heartbreaking losses at the end. We’re there fighting, and they do have a lot of heart. I’ve got to give it all to them. They’re the ones fighting, they’ve gotten tougher, they’ve got more confidence. That’s the exciting thing.”
Rulon said there’s a new excitement for sports at Pleasantville. The football team won four games last year and had a dramatic overtime win in the season opener two weeks ago. The boys soccer and girls volleyball teams have won league championships.
“There’s definitely 100 percent confidence in the sports here,” he said. “You can see it in the hallways, you can see it out here on campus. There’s always people out here playing now, always people coming out to watch now. You can feel the change. It’s good to see that."
Several sophomores are playing prominent roles this season for the Greyhounds. The middle school has started a girls soccer program.
"The talent level is increasing," Rulon said. "A couple girls that I didn’t think would play this year are now starting because they put the work in over the summer.
"The future is bright for us,” Rulon said. “At this point we’re climbing and we’re not going to go backwards, I hope.”