Littleton soccer coach Terry Banfield believes that to beat the best teams you have to play the best teams.
So the Lions, a Class 4A team, are facing a rugged non-league schedule, which opened March 9 with a 4-1 loss to 5A Chaparral at Echo Park Automotive Stadium in Parker.
After a game against Pomona, the Lions faced Arapahoe in the Warrior Invitational, held March 15-17 at Littleton Public Schools Stadium. ThunderRidge, Denver East, Monarch and Ralston Valley are also in the tournament.
“Our schedule is one of the toughest I could build,” Banfield said. “The Jeffco 4A has four teams in the top 10, so we’re under no illusions of what we are doing. We really built this to see what this is all about. It’s almost like a baptism in a fire really.
“So when we get into the league, we’re not going to be surprised. We’ve played top 5A teams so let’s play top 4A teams and kind of use that experience we’ve had in the preseason with non-league games.”
Littleton fell behind 2-0 against Chaparral but a goal by Sarah Gray in the 51st minute pulled the Lions close. But the Wolverines added two more goals in the final 21 minutes of the game.
“We know we are playing good teams,” Banfield said. “Chaparral is a great team. We are rebuilding, we lost our defense and nine seniors. I felt it was a great learning experience against Chaparral. I was really pleased. The first half we learned our lessons and we put them into play the second half and it was a much better game.”
Banfield knows Littleton may take some losses early to prepare the team for remainder of the season.
“We build every game,” he said. “We were just saying in the locker room, we learned lots of lessons in the first half against Chaparral. We came out in the second half and showed we did learn those lessons.
“So if we can do that within one game, now we get training and if we learn that quickly I’m pretty excited. I’m really excited for the season. This is a great group of girls with good leadership.”