Ten days off in the middle of the season is enough to keep head coaches awake at night. And in the sport of soccer, where conditioning plays a key role, those days off are the stuff of nightmares.

Big Bear High School’s varsity girls soccer team was off for 10 days to spend time with family during the holidays. That was reason enough for head coach Lisa Griffiths to schedule back-to-back games against strong programs last week. The Lady Bears went 0-1-1 in their return to the pitch.

“It’s always tough during the break,” Griffiths said. “It takes a toll on fitness. Playing two pretty tough games got us to a good point. All of our nonleague games are there to get us better for league.”

Big Bear (7-2-4) opens Cross Valley League play Wednesday, Jan. 8, at the Academy for Academic Excellence (4-4-2). The two teams have played three common opponents in the preseason with 2-0-1 records. The Lady Bears shut out Victor Valley 2-0 and the Academy of Careers & Exploration 10-0 while tying Mammoth 1-1. The Knights shut out Mammoth 3-0 and ACE 9-0 while tying Victor Valley 0-0.

That’s the only similarity between the two teams. Big Bear has scored 46 goals in 13 games, stronger on offense than in previous years. AAE has four goals in 10 games, and appears to rely heavily on defense.

Griffiths said it’s not necessarily offense that defines this year’s team. It is senior leadership. “We have six seniors who have really come together and tried to bring the team along and get the most out of everybody,” Griffiths said. “They really want to win.”

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