Chester and Baima fill roles well for Lady Cats
Tyler Clifton | News-Telegram Sports Writer

March 17, 2004 -- Soccer, like its football counterpart, allows 11 players per team to be on the field at the same time.

That means not everyone can start, but role players can play huge dividends for a team in crunch time. That's where Sulphur Springs seniors Krista Chester and Erin Baima fit in. The duo provides a spark for the Lady Wildcats that can't be measured on a stat sheet.

SSHS knows it can score with the likes of juniors Ashley Petty and Tess Bragg along with freshmen Gayle Grand-Lienard and Robin Grafton, but Chester and Baima are part of a defense that will go a long way toward determining how far this team goes in the playoffs.

The Lady Wildcats have already clinched their goal of winning district and now have bigger and better plans in the postseason. Chester and Baima will play in integral part in the team's success, and head coach J.J. Williams said they bring a different dimension to the team.

"Krista and Erin add a lot of character to this team and get along good with the other girls," Williams said. "They tend to bond together pretty well with the rest of the team and are solid competitors. They understand their roles and do a good job of executing and doing what is expected of them."

Chester has played soccer since she was six years old, following the lead of her older brother who also played the game.

Although it takes goals to win, Chester echoes the sentiment of the defense's importance, particularly during this time of year. She said teamwork is the most valuable aspect of this group.

"It's important that we all work together," Chester said. "No certain person wins or loses a game."

Baima, who is originally from Illinois, is playing her first year of soccer after being urged by her younger sister, a member of the junior varsity team.

It wasn't an easy transition, as it's difficult to walk up to any sport and start playing, but Baima has adjusted well for the most part. She said that even though it serves as her first season and her last, that it's been packed with memorable moments.

"It was hard at the beginning, but it's been fun and was definitely worth the time I put into it," Baima said. "I've gotten a lot out of being with this team and am glad my sister encouraged me to come out."

The other girls are surely pleased to have Baima's services as well. A team can never have enough quality defenders, and she gives Williams another option at the position.

Now that the playoffs are here, Chester, Baima and the other seniors are faced with the situation of possibly playing their last game every time they hit the field. The team knew during its final home game on senior night that it would live to see another day win or lose, and Chester said the team might not have been mentally into the game because of it.

"I don't think some of the girls realized how much the game mattered even though we had already clinched district," Chester said. "We didn't play very good, but I think everyone realizes how important the next one is and that we'll play a lot better."

Many factors could be attributed to the Lady Wildcats' rise this year. Williams told the team before the season even started that there would be no outcasts, and the philosophy has rubbed off on the players. A solid defense and an offense that consists of a 20-plus goal scorer doesn't hurt things either, but Chester and Baima pointed to the same aspect when it came to the team's success -- running.

"We're more in shape than anybody it seems," Baima said. "We've worked hard with our conditioning all season, and adding our skill level to that made us a good team."

Both seniors are pleased to be a part of a district champion, something that can never be taken away from them.

"I'm very honored to be a part of this, because we've worked very, very hard," Baima said.

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