“Be the first.”
That was the motto this season for the girls varsity soccer team at William Penn Charter School in East Falls.
Be the first squad in school history to win an Inter-Athletic League title. Be the first to win a state championship.
The talent-filled Quaker side didn’t disappoint. After a 22-2-1 season, the school has two new trophies to display.
Being ‘all in’
First-year head coach Darci Borski is a big reason why.
“She runs the kind of program where you just have to be all-in. You have to totally buy into all of what’s she’s selling,” said senior captain Leigh Steinberg. “We all did and that’s what made it work.”
When it comes to women’s soccer, Borski, 33, is a bit of a local legend as both a player and coach.
She’s competed professionally in the United States and Norway. During her six seasons at Germantown Academy, a high school sports mecca in Montgomery County, she coached four championship teams.
Borski brought her considerable talents — and high expectations — to Penn Charter after a national search landed her a job offer.
A landmark year
On a recent Thursday afternoon, she smiled as she reflected on her team’s historic season from inside the school’s field house.
“It’s been an amazing year,” said Borski, who also serves as the school’s associate athletic director.
Asked what made it all possible, Borski pointed to her team’s mental and physical toughness and a willingness to play with each other and for one another.
She won’t have her teams any other way.
“For me, there’s no excuses, you have to do the hard work,” said Borski. “I hope I made that mentality clear to my players that what you put into life you get out if it, so if we’re going to do all of this hard work it’s going to pay off.”
Women coaching women
Borski also thinks it didn’t hurt that she was a woman coaching a women’s team. It’s just a different dynamic, she said.
“When there’s a guy coach and he’s yelling and demanding, I think it turns some women and young girls off. I think it’s different when it’s coming from a woman. I don’t know why.”
Senior Stephanie Soroka agreed, but said it was Borski’s passion for the game and competitive sprit that truly put the team over the top.
“She wants it so bad. She wants it as much as the girls do,” said Soroka. “She never gave up on us even when we gave up on ourselves.”
“I don’t think we could have had the season we had without Darci,” said Steinberg.
Shooting for future success
Borski’s blunt when talking about her goals for Penn Charter’s program. She wants to build a powerhouse.
The team is losing five of its seniors, but she’s confident that something special is brewing at Penn Charter and that the school can be a perennial contender.
“I want to repeat. That’s what I want. That’s what I want my team to want and that’s what I want to instill in this program — that this is what you drive for each and every year,” said Borski.