Poland, Hubbard come together after losing beloved community members

Correspondent photos / Robert Hayes. Poland sophomore Sophia Generalovich makes a move before scoring her first of two goals Monday evening at Hubbard with Rheanna Barr on defense.

HUBBARD — Above all, it’s just a game.

Prior to the opening kickoff Monday night, the Hubbard and Poland girl’s soccer teams joined in unity at midfield, as the stadium recognized a moment of silence in memoriam of Hubbard High School teacher Jillian Marian and Poland assistant coach John Violi.

Even with the junior varsity contest canceled, both teams still dressed their full rosters, and stood in a circle at midfield alongside with coaching staffs, game officials, and more importantly, their fellow peers.

The Bulldogs ultimately won the matchup 6-0 over the Eagles, but sometimes, life is bigger than the game itself. Comradery on the soccer pitch meant more than the final outcome.

“Today was important. By being here, the girls, no matter what they felt they were going through, got to see there were 25 other girls there. They got to see life is just bigger than soccer,” said Hubbard coach Josh MacMillan, mentioning how big Marian’s loss is for the community. “In three or four years, nobody is going to sit there and think about a game that was played on a Monday night in October. They’re just going to sit there and look at how they were there for each other, and that goes for Poland, too.”

“I think the biggest thing for us is that if we look back on tonight, we hope that these kids years from now, they will get more out of being there for other people and be better with their character than they will with anything that has to do with soccer.”

Poland coach Noah Huda was one of the first informed of Violi passing last week, who was a Hubbard graduate himself.

“Sometimes you have sports, and sometimes you have real life. Real life takes over sometimes, and it was nice to see everybody together today for the losses,” Huda said, commenting that he’ll miss Violi.

Poland (9-3) remains perfect in Northeast-8 play, with a conference record of 9-0, bouncing back after a tough 1-0 loss at Howland on Saturday.

Searching for a score early was the objective.

Within the first five minutes of play, Bulldogs sophomore Sophia Generalovich took a shot from the 10-yard line on a pretty clean look to find the scoreboard first.

“I think we passed really well tonight. We had a lot of hustle and energy, and I think that helped us a lot.” said Generalovich. “We needed a lot of confidence going into playoffs; we needed to play fast and needed to recover from the loss (to Howland).

“When we get in our flow, we start to just keep it going, and it’s really important for us to get into it early, so we can keep it going.”

At the 29:52 mark, senior Ariana Daniels made a shot after bouncing in off the left bar to go up 2-0. Sophomore Ava Blinsky helped her team build a three-score lead following a made shot from 20 yards out. With about six minutes to go in the half, Generalovich scored her second goal on a header following a corner kick by junior Ariel Grischow.

“I thought both teams had a lot going on in the past week, and I thought it was just really important to focus on the important parts of the game, and the technical things about the game,” Daniels said. “I think it was important for us to start off quickly, because, against Howland, we just needed to have that momentum in the beginning to keep us going throughout the game. Starting off quick here created more opportunities for people.

“I think as long as we just hype each other up, we congratulate each other and stay positive, even when we make mistakes, I think that’s the most important part of it.”

Generalovich, Blinsky, and Daniels all scored two goals a piece.

“I think we are finally getting our confidence, and we’re ready to prove what we can show,” Daniels said. “I think a lot of it comes from practice, just understanding that you need to work hard, show up, pay attention, really understand what’s going on and the important parts of soccer are.”

Hubbard fell to 7-6 on the campaign, but after deciding to play the contest following the tragic accident involving Marian, MacMillian felt that both teams learned a lesson much bigger than wins and losses Monday evening at Hubbard Memorial Stadium.

“You’re hoping that you’re a good role model so that it helps them become a better person later on,” MacMillian said as to why people become coaches. “You don’t see it with coaching when it’s happening, but maybe three, four, or five years from now when you see these girls when they’re employees or college students.

“Or ten years from now when they’re wives or mothers, you hope that something you did, even when it’s a day like this, those moments made them better in all of those aspects of their lives that really are going to matter for 50 or 60 years rather than 80 minutes in a soccer game.”


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