Andes girls’ soccer team rebuilding after strong run

By John Bernhardt
It’s about starting over for Andes girls’ soccer coaches Tom Little and Sandra Noonan. After over a decade of struggles, the Lady Mountaineers broke from the pack last season, earning their way into the Section IV tournament and winning an opening round playoff game. But, graduation and transfer has ravished the Mountaineers’ roster with nine of Andes 18 players departing.

“It’s tough to rebound from such a hit,” lamented Little. “Even for a much bigger school, losing one-half your roster is a daunting prospect. For a school the size of Andes that kind of loss is devastating.”

Little and Noonan are busy devising plans to reformat the Mountaineers’ game. Last season, Andes had an offensive style of play scoring at least one goal in every game until their final game of the season against Section IV’s top seeded team, Edmeston. But, the two leading scorers of the 2009 squad are gone, so the 2010 Andes edition will have a more defensive-minded focus.

The Andes coaches hope a strong core running through the center of the field can become an iron band of defense. Senior sweeper Gina Tait is the foundation of the defensive attack. Back for her sixth season as sweeper, Tait is a smart defender with a deep understanding of positioning and spacing, and is quick to double team and help out the outside fullbacks. A strong accurate foot makes Tait a natural at direct and goal kicks.

Junior Marissa Hennings will play the stopper position in front of Tait. Determined and aggressive, Hennings is efficient containing offensive charges and playing through the ball. Continuing the interior defensive strategy, the coaches will make sophomore Kelsey Little the center mid. A strong all-around player, Little has excellent ball control skills that the coaches hope she will use to distribute passes to the team’s strikers.

Two juniors, Desirae Coss and Arianna Cole, are working out in the goal trying to fill a huge void left with the graduation of Jenna Weaver. Coss was an outside defender on the back line last season. Both girls will fill that role when they are not tending the nets.

Plenty of speed
Senior Kayla Weaver and junior Ashley Terry bring speed and athleticism to the outside midfield. Terry is strong to the ball and aggressive, and Weaver, new to the game last season, continues to develop crucial game skills.

Little and Noonan will be counting on two underclassmen, sophomore Jade Litaker and freshman Cheyenne Coss, to find the nets. Litaker is not afraid to shoot, and Coss has blazing speed on the outside wing.

Freshmen Samantha Falco, Marissa Peck, and Jennifer Andrews round out the roster. Each is developing foot skills and a better understanding of the game. The coaches hope their learning curve is short because each will be needed.

Short on numbers, Little emphasized the importance of conditioning and the fact that all his players must prepare to handle field responsibilities on every line on the field. “Everyone will need to learn to play multiple positions so we can rotate people on and off the field for necessary breaks,” explained Little.

Little feels it could be a wide-open chase for the league title but slightly favors Gilboa to win the crown.