STEVENSVILLE — It’s been a special season for the Stevensville girls soccer team. Recently, they won the Southern A conference title and will head into next week's playoffs as a top seed.
A big driver behind their success is senior Kyra Nishimoto, who moved to Montana this summer, and has ingrained herself as an immediate leader on this Yellowjacket squad.
With family already in Stevensville, Nishimoto moved to Montana from Livermore, California (in the Bay Area) during the summer and immediately found a new home with her new teammates.
"Everyone here has been so kind and so welcoming to me being here," Nishimoto said. "I was just mostly excited to get started with soccer again. It was hard to leave my old team but joining such a welcoming team with good coaches really helped. I made friends off the soccer team before school even started so it made it really easy to get into the classroom and make new friends."
First-year head coach Eric Depee said his star player made an impact right away with this team.
"What she brought to the team is just an intensity and a drive that’s really kind of fed into the younger players," Depee said. "They all are seeing what she’s doing, we use her for an example a lot of times on different things that they’re doing. How to attack the ball, how to strike the ball, movement off the ball, everything."
Nishimoto, who has scored 10 goals and added four assists this year, is bound for soccer after college too, and last week was celebrated by the team after signing to play for NCAA Division II Holy Names University in Oakland, California.
For this season, Nishimoto has helped Stevensville make history as the top seed in the South with a 9-2-0 record, the first conference title in school history for girls soccer. The Yellowjackets will begin their quest for a Class A title next week as a top seed when they host in the opening round of the playoffs next Saturday.
"Very proud, we work very hard in practice trying out new things, looking at opponent's games and trying to figure out how we can win and just giving it all out there," Nishimoto said.
"Getting this group of players has been a phenomenal experience," Depee added. "They’re all excellent students, excellent players. Experience is uncharted for me because of how well they all adapt to each game and they all play their hearts out every time and they’re always supporting each other, that’s the biggest thing."