Sherando’s six girls soccer seniors were different from some of the past groups but they were still special to head coach Rob Kilmer.
Only two of the six seniors – Ali Baltimore and Abbie Dodson – had played all four years at the varsity level. Jolie Call was entering her second season on varsity and Hannah Burton was on varsity for the first time this year. Valeria Castillo-Chinchilla and Isabella Unrath were transfers from other schools. Castillo-Chinchilla transferred from Herndon last year but suffered a season-ending knee injury and didn’t get to play for Sherando. Unrath transferred this year from Warren County.
“It’s been a very special group,” Kilmer said. “It’s a shame we’ll never know what this group could have done.”
Unrath said that even though she didn’t get to play a varsity game, she was happy for the time she got to spend with her new teammates.
“When I came onto Sherando I had played at Warren County my ninth and 11th-grade year, so coming to Sherando I knew it was going to be exciting,” Unrath said. “I knew going in it was going to be a pretty high-level high school team. I knew that they had done very well in past seasons. So I was excited to see with me coming onto the team if it was going to make an impact. And right away the girls were super accepting and all very nice people. The coaches were amazing, and they were super supportive and allowed me to find a place on that team.”
Unrath said that she and junior Kendall Lincoln, who has verbally committed to play at the University of South Florida, were friends before she came to Sherando and had talked about how great it would be to play together. Unrath, who has signed to play at Longwood University next year, said that in Sherando’s first scrimmage this season Lincoln assisted on her first goal of the game.
“It was exciting for us, just because it was our first time getting to play together,” Unrath said. “She actually assisted my first goal, and that was our first scrimmage of the season. I was looking forward to playing at Sherando with a new team, and I wanted to show my coaches and my team that I was able to help out. I just wanted to make a good first impression. So my first goal was probably one of my favorite memories just because Kendall assisted it, and I actually scored another goal that game.”
Unrath was a first-team All-Region 3B selection her junior season at Warren County. Kilmer said that Unrath was special and he’s disappointed that he didn’t get to see her play in regular-season games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She is probably one of the most talented girls that has ever touched Sherando’s program,” Kilmer said. “All of us coaches mentioned boy did we miss out because we didn’t get to watch her play with the talent that we had on this team. It’s sad to miss this season and sad for the seniors, but for us coaches and the parents of the kids and the fans of Sherando I think they missed out on getting to see one of the greats.”
Dodson has had a huge impact on Sherando’s soccer program. The four-year starter has played in every position, including one game as the goalkeeper, and has been a key cog in the team’s success.
Last year Dodson had five goals and three assists for the Warriors.
Dodson said that her favorite memories from the team were all the little things such as going to team dinners, getting ready before games, doing cheers and dances before each game and running down the steps onto the field for home games.
She said her favorite memory from a game was a win over rival Handley in her sophomore season.
“When we beat Handley that last game (in the postseason), we just really worked well as a team,” Dodson said. “I remember it was a great feeling.”
Dodson said out of all the positions she’s played, center-midfield was her favorite.
“I really like that position because a lot of ball movement really goes through you,” she said. “You get a lot of opportunities to help others score and to score yourself.”
Kilmer said that Baltimore was a quiet leader and athletic.
“Ali Baltimore is very quick, very fast, very skilled,” Kilmer said. “She’s a four-year starter for us, always been very dependable. She’s just a very quick, dynamic player, tricky with her dribbling.”
Kilmer said that Call was the most improved player on this year’s squad and a great example for the younger players.
“Jolie Call, this would have been her second year on varsity, and without a doubt, she was the most improved from last year to this year,” Kilmer said. “She blossomed. Great for her, sad that she misses the senior season to show what she can do. But kudos to her. The improvement she made from last year to this year was just shocking. What a great example she is for other girls to look at what you can do in one year to improve. She went from limited time last year to a girl that was going to start for us this year.”
Kilmer said that Burton was a three-year standout on the junior varsity squad and she was ready to bring her skills to the varsity level this season.
“Hannah Burton, virtually for three years she was the leader of the JV team,” Kilmer said. “She was going to bring the leadership skills to the varsity. She’s a very skilled individual with a great foot who we were looking forward to seeing what she could do this year.”
Kilmer said that Castillo-Chinchilla was primed to have a strong season for the Warriors this year in her return from a knee injury.
“I was up at Yorktown High School (at a travel team game) watching her play, and I got to see her play for 10 minutes and I knew right then ‘boy, this girl’s really good,’” Kilmer said. “She was playing (Club Champions League) up there, which is a very high level. So this year she was going to anchor our midfield with Izzy (Unrath) and she could do it all. She’s a terrific player, great in the air, very physical. So we were looking forward to seeing how she did. I think every practice, every game her knee was going to get stronger and stronger. So we missed out on getting to see that.”
Unrath said that her favorite part about soccer is the bonds that you make.
“I think soccer is a special sport because it takes a whole team to win,” she said. “I think there’s always special players that really stand out, but in the end, it’s about being able to have chemistry and bonds and being able to work with one another. So I think it’s a really great sport to be able to grow in and has a lot of strength and speed as well as technique and physicality. It’s just a sport you can do a lot of things in and you can grow a lot of great bonds that you can’t necessarily do in other sports that are more individual.”
Dodson said she is planning to attend Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall and is hoping to play club soccer there as well.
She said that soccer has meant everything to her.
“Soccer has been my go-to for everything from middle school on,” Dodson said. “It occupied 21 hours of my life every week, even more than that actually. When school was tough, I’d go play soccer. When I was stressed out, I’d go play soccer. When I was excited, I’d go play soccer. I lived for it. I lived for the adrenaline of having big games coming up and playing different positions, talking to different coaches, going to different travel teams, training. I loved to train. My skills trainer was Terry Hoffman and he’s the best coach I’ve ever had, probably made me who I am today. I’m so grateful to him. I’ve spent a lot of years training with him. I have a lot of memories. It occupied a lot of my time and I loved every second of it.”
Urath said that during the COVID-19 pandemic she has been trying to do everything she can to stay in shape and get ready to play at the Division 1 level.
She said that she’s looking forward to continuing her soccer career and playing a sport that has taught her so much.
“It’s definitely taught me not to give up,” Unrath said. “It’s definitely taught me how to endure things and keep your head up in hard situations and winning isn’t everything. You have to accept failures because without them you’re not going to be able to learn. It definitely taught me about perseverance and determination, I think because there’s a lot of ups and downs and a lot of things you can’t control in soccer. So I think it’s definitely taught me that you have to keep your head up and focus on controlling the things that you can.”