BILLERICA – Everyone knew that this season would be different than seasons past for the Shawsheen Tech Girls Soccer team, along with every other team in the state of Massachusetts, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But pandemic or not, nobody could have predicted just how different the season would be for Shawsheen senior forward Jessica Scholl of Tewksbury.
Coming off an excellent junior season where she had helped lead the Rams to their first state tournament berth in three years, Scholl looked poised to lead the Rams to another successful campaign. While a tournament berth was out of the question, with all state tournaments being canceled this season, a winning record and a shot at the league title certainly seemed like possibilities for Scholl and the Rams.
But, so much for best laid plans for either Scholl or the Rams. Nobody could have possibly planned on what happened to Scholl on the eve of Shawsheen’s opening game. As the Rams went through their final preparations for their season opener against Greater Lowell with an intrasquad scrimmage, Scholl, who had looked great in preseason practices, rolled her ankle with about five minutes left in the scrimmage.
“It was pretty upsetting,” Scholl said. “To get injured the day before the first game of my senior year was pretty tough to take, so I was very distraught.
Distraught or not, Scholl quickly set her mind to getting back into the Rams lineup, hoping to salvage not only her senior season, but also to help her teammates with a much needed scoring punch. Thanks to plenty of hard work, as well some great care by the staff at Shawsheen, Scholl was able to get back in the field, but not before missing four critical games to start the season.
“It was just a lot of resting and ice and a lot of exercises, to try and get rid of the swelling and get back as quickly as I could. And I worked a lot with our trainer, she was very helpful,” Scholl said. “It was hard knowing I couldn’t be there helping them, whether it was getting passes to the net or scoring goals for them.”
Scholl’s absence certainly hit the Rams hard, as they struggled to score goals in the early going of the season, scoring just three goals in the those first four games of the season, including ties of 1-1 against Innovation Academy and scoreless against Lowell Catholic, as they went 0-1-3 during the four games.
Shawsheen coach Doug Michaud certainly missed having Scholl in the lineup, as she brought something to the Rams that not everybody has. That is, Scholl not only has the ability to score, but also has the mentality that she is going to score.
“We had some close games during that stretch where she might have made a difference, and with only ten games this season, losing her for four of them was tough,” Michaud said. “We haven’t had a person on the team that has been driving to the net, but there is no fear with Jess.
“She just really puts in that second effort when it is close to the goal and she is willing to take a shot at any time, and it’s ok if it goes over the net, or goes to the side, but at least she is getting the reps and getting more shots, and then she has had some really nice goals as well.”
Indeed she has. Since returning to the Rams lineup, Scholl has scored three goals in four games. Not so coincidentally, the Rams have gone 2-0-2 in those games. Following a scoreless tie against Greater Lowell in her first game back, the Rams have been much more successful at putting the ball in the net in the three games since, with four goals in those games, three of them coming from Scholl.
“I think she really would have helped earlier in the season,” Michaud said. “In her first game back, she didn’t score, but you could see there was a different intensity in front of the net because she was stirring things up. It’s great having her back.”
Scholl doesn’t have much of an explanation for her hot streak since her return, other than the fact that she is plenty motivated to get the most out of what is left of her senior season.
“I think it has just stuck in my head that this is my last season and I want to do the best that I can and score as many goals as I can,” Scholl said. “Because those will be the last goals that I will ever score, because I am not going to play in college.”
Scholl, who has been with the Rams varsity since her freshman year, has improved very season of her career, but has shown the most growth last year in her junior year, and now of course in her senior season
“It really showed the most this season,” Michaud said. “She has always been a forward, but I actually tried her on defense a couple of times because she is fast. She did a good job there, but she is better at forward. Last year she was taking our corners for us because she has a big long kick. She would take the ball down the side and she could swing the ball in with a big kick, and she was great with that.
“That kind of developed last year and then this year she got even better with that, where she isn’t blowing the ball over the net like last year, but she is getting them on net and getting some big goals, which is great for us.”
And while it hasn’t exactly been the season that either Scholl or the Rams were hoping for, Scholl still knows she will look back on these days fondly, even this most unusual of senior seasons. She will be moving on to college next September to study nursing and pursue her dream of becoming an RN, but she will always remember Shawsheen Tech.
“It’s been a good season. It’s a little harder because of the new rules that we are ae trying to learn. It was harder for all of us to adjust to the new regulations, but we are all getting used to it, and have adjusted well,” Scholl said. “It’s going to be very hard to see it end, because I have been playing soccer since I was four years old. It has been my life since I was a little girl, so it going to be hard because I am never going to be playing again.”