Girls Soccer Preview
Expectations are high as girls’ soccer teams throughout the county prepare for the upcoming season, but a lack of depth also has coaches keeping their fingers crossed.
When asked about a concern heading into the season Mountain Coach Todd Calabro said what is on the minds of his fellow coaches,
“One of the things I’m constantly worrying about is keeping players healthy, we’re pretty low on numbers,” Calabro said.
And he isn’t alone in that concern. Both Harrison Williams and Katie Mitchell who take over at Montrose and Elk Lake respectively, know that the numbers their squads have leave them prone to injury or illness.
However, that apprehension is overmatched by the excitement and expectations that all three coaches have for their teams this season.
Calabro leads a squad that finished second to Montrose in both the league and in District II. The Lady Eagles return most of that team but will have to replace all-star goalkeeper Sydney Newhart and second team all-star midfielder Lily Virbitsky.
But Mountain View has Division first team all-star forward Natalie Cross returning along with second team all stars Abby Neri and Maressa Salansky.
Those three leads a core of young players that gained experience as sophomores and freshmen a year ago.
“I think a strength for us is we return most of our players, so we’re already familiar with each other,” Neri said.
“We have a really good bond and relationship with each other and play really well together,” added junior Regan Cameron.
Calabro is excited about his offense and sees that as a strength heading into the season.
“Our offense is solid, even though were still young, we bring a lot of experience back,” noted Calabro.
Neri will anchor the defense for Mountain View and Calabro said that finding the right combinations to flank Neri is one of the preseason goals. Junior Morgan Hammond takes over in the goal.
The Lady Meteors come off the most successful season in program history after going undefeated in league play and capturing the District II Class A championship and winning the program’s first state playoff game.
But many key players from that team have graduated and Williams takes the helm after Regional Coach of the Year Jenton Esworthy stepped down.
Williams, a former semi-pro player in New York who has coached at various levels, takes the helm of a team that may have been fleeced by graduation but still returns plenty of talent who benefited from the previous season’s playoff run.
“We lost 10 from last year. We have one senior, a couple juniors, couple sophomores, and six or seven freshmen,” said Williams. “Getting that a group to bond and work together is going to be challenge.”
Williams feels the Lady Meteors can overcome that with the leadership he’s seen during the preseason from the returning players.
“But I have great leadership, the players that have returned have all shown great leadership qualities,” added Williams. “Everyone’s in, everybody’s in.”
Junior Lizzy Lathrop, a second team all-star a year ago feels getting the younger players adapted to the varsity level and unafraid of mistakes will be a key for Montrose.
“We need to get the new people more confident and realize they’re on this team now and we’re all family,” said Lathrop. “It’s okay to make a mistake because we can learn from that.”
Aside from the leadership Williams noted that he feels the team has a lot of speed that will be to their advantage in league play.
One of those providing that speed is senior Chalice Guyette. The Track All-Regional Sprinter sees the offense as a strength for the Lady Meteors despite the graduation of all-state player and three-time Regional Player of the Year Maddie Gilhool.
“We’re going to be an offensive team, we have a lot of people that can attack, and we have a lot of speed,” said Guyette.
Aside from Guyette and Lathrop, the Lady Meteors return first team all star Cici Adams along with starters Lindsey Coy and Tangi Smith.
Williams is looking to use the preseason to identify where everyone will play that will best utilize each team member’s talents. “Positional play will be important,” said Williams. “Once we get on the field against an opponent we’ll see where everyone fits best.”
After serving as the assistant coach the past couple of seasons, Mitchell assumes the helm of the Lady Warriors program.
“It’s different. As the assistant you play more of the good cop in the good cop/bad cop situation,” observed Mitchell. “But as head coach you have to put the hammer down and be more of that tough cop.”
The coaching transition has been smooth for the Lady Warriors.
“Even as the assistant coach she had a lot of responsibilities, so I think it’s been easy for her to step into that role,” said senior Forward Katie Cusatis.
Like the other local teams, Elk Lake fields a roster of 16 players and depth is a concern, but Mitchell sees the teams participation in off-season training as a strength.
“We had a six-week conditioning program that a lot of the girls followed and bought into,” said Mitchell. “With a small team that is important, and you can see that we’re ahead of where we were last year.”
The Lady Warriors have a balance of experienced and new players in the program and Mitchell will lean on the leadership of Cusatis and senior Midfielder Megan Bosscher and senior Defender Mercedes Zajaczkowski
“We have a mix of new and returning players and it’s going to be a challenge,” said Bosscher. “But we had a great turnout for our offseason stuff and coach has done a lot of team bonding with out skill work that will help.”
Mitchell is confident in her team’s defense despite graduating Division III Player of the Year Goalkeeper Lucy Ives.
“Our defense has always been solid and I’m confident with what we have returning that will continue,” added Mitchell.
On the offensive end Elk Lake is focusing a lot on footwork and ball skills to address the needs of their younger players.
Along with the seniors, Elk Lake returns starters Davia Adams, Charity Kasson, and Tamara Voda.