Area girls' soccer teams look ahead to big season
By John Bernhardt
When Andes girls’ soccer coach Sandra Baldauf put away the balls at the end of the 2007 season she had reason to be optimistic about the fall of 2008. Baldauf would be losing only two girls to graduation. If she could pick up a handful of younger players, Baldauf anticipated a deep roster this fall. Sometimes funny things can happen on the way to the forum.
Flash forward to August 2008. For Baldauf, the preseason has become a numbers game as she attempts to piece together a roster with enough girls to play. The troubles for Andes actually began last winter. Two seasoned defenders are recovering from previous injuries preventing them from playing soccer this fall. Baldauf’s dilemma intensified when two of her three seniors chose to sit out the season and follow other pursuits. The picture only darkened after Andes lost Arianna Kole with a fractured ankle during the preseason.
“We have a group of eight or nine really loyal girls who show up every day and are working very hard,” Baldauf explained. “I’m hoping we can find enough girls to provide support so these girls can play.”
Andes goes into the opening week of the season with just 12 healthy girls on the roster. With a young squad and the injuries that always seem to accompany playing soccer, Baldauf worries that might not be enough.
As a result of the numbers crunch, Baldauf is taking a generalist’s approach to the preseason. Practices focus on skill development and players are asked to acquire the knowledge and skills required on every line. “With our numbers, we need to develop a total understanding of the game and the demands of different positions. Game situations will determine where people play. Needless to say conditioning is critical,” noted Baldauf.
Hope Egnacak is the only senior, a co-captain and a returning defender. Egnacak positions herself well on the field and provides verbal leadership.
The second co-captain, Karli Tait, is having a strong preseason. Tait will play in the midfield, but Baldauf hopes a powerful shot will provide an offensive flavor to Tait’s game. “Karli is showing great leadership this fall,” praised Baldauf.
Fun loving, with a reservoir of spunk, Kally Lauther keeps her teammates’ spirits high. Bauldauf is pleased with Lauther’s skill development during the preseason.
Good speed and a solid shot provide an offensive profile for another junior, Kaitlin MacKay. Badauf is looking for MacKay to increase her aggressiveness up front and is working with the junior on volleying and finishing skills.
A talented sophomore, Gina Tait has played three seasons as sweeper but could see some time in the midfield to provide more offensive thrust. Tait is a solid defender who understands defensive play and contains well.
With an ankle fracture keeping returning goalie Arianna Kole on the sidelines, sophomore Tyler Fairbairn will give tending the nets a try.
Four freshmen form the heart of the squad. Kole, a promising goalie, is joined by Marissa Heanings, Ashley Terry, and Desirae Coss. Heannings is a solid, aggressive field player with a “stick to it” style that works anywhere on the field. Baldauf notes Terry has matured a great deal over the summer and is developing into a solid player. “Ashley has a strong foot, is aggressive, and shows the best endurance on the field,” lauded the Andes coach. Bauldauf likes what she sees in Coss, an athletic newcomer who runs well and learns fast.
Kelsey Little played stopper last year season. Little flashes good ball skills with both feet and knows the game exceptionally well. The Andes eighth-grader could be asked to move to the forward line in offensive situations this year. Another eighth-grader, Jade Littaker is showing some offensive instincts this fall. After coaching Littaker in track last spring, Baldauf knows her forward has running explosiveness and is waiting for an increased running output this fall.
Seventh-grader, Mariah Ruff, rounds out the roster. Ruff is a good addition to the team and is fitting in well.
With early season tournament play and by the luck of the draw, the schedule is unkind to the Mountaineers. Andes plays seven of their first eight contests away from home.
Margaretville girls’ soccer coach Toni Smith sees a wide-open chase for the Delaware League crown this fall. If her young squad develops as planned, Smith is hopeful Margaretville could be in the thick of the title chase.
Short on seniors, the roster still goes deep. Casey Hubbell, the only senior on the squad, is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Even so, a cadre of nine juniors headlines a team that goes 15 strong and provides enough depth and experience to compete.
The captain of the squad, Amanda Drizis is a tremendous talent who will play defensive center-mid. Drizis defines perpetual hustle and brings a hard-nosed style of play to the middle of the field. The Blue Devils utilize the junior’s strong foot on dead ball kicks.
Back for her third season, Michelle O’Reilly has been working as a stopper in the early season. O’Reilly clears the ball well from the defensive end with good power and lift and is a key clog in the Blue Devil defensive machine.
Jasmin Miller joins O’Reilly on defense. In her second season, Miller plays outside fullback with hustle and determination. Smith praises the gritty junior who simply does not back down.
Smith is counting on two juniors, Erica Faulkner and Carly Galatioto, to score. Galatioto is a dependable striker who works an outside wing. The gritty junior crosses the ball well, often finding Faulkner shaking herself free in front of the nets. At mid-center striker, Faulkner shows blazing speed, great pursuit of the ball, good ball control with both feet, and a powerful shot on goal.
Three juniors share support roles on the offensive or mid-field lines. Christine Kelly brings intensity and focus and should see time on both lines. Twin sister, Emily, is a great team player who concentrates on the forward line, while Courtney Williamson is developing her skills in the mid-field in her first year of varsity soccer.
The final junior, Kieryn Salewski is trying her hand in the goal. Salewski has little background and experience for this assignment but is addressing the challenge with enthusiasm.
Smith is looking for good things from sophomore Karla Nava. Nava, a versatile performer, brings good ball skills, great endurance, and a solid work ethic to the midfield. Smith is playing Nava on the outside, but feels she could shift to the middle if needed.
Oliva Todd returns for her second varsity season. An outside defender, Todd was elevated from the modified team in the middle of the season last year. The sophomore plays smart and is developing into a solid defender.
In her first season, another sophomore, Tania Silva, is catching Smith’s eye. Silva is working on the offensive line, learns quickly, and sports a strong left foot.
Smith is pleased with the progress of two talented freshmen. Amy Filupeit, fast, strong, with good ball skills, finishes well on offense, is a good runner and should see time in the mid-field. An all purpose defender Danielle Hull is very strong, plays physically and holds her ground. Hull has been working as the Blue Devil’s back-up goalie
Smith is pleased with her team’s attitude and ability to work well together throughout the preseason. The third-year coach feels it’s critical her girls can be flexible and man different positions on the field as the changing situations dictate. Should that be the case, after a one-year absence, the Blue Devils could be headed back to the Section IV playoffs.
Lisa Faraci has taken the reins of the Roxbury girls’ soccer team this fall. The first-year mentor is excited about her new assignment and likes what she sees so far.
There is plenty of interest in girls’ soccer in Roxbury with 16 players on the squad. Faraci’s team enjoys experience on every line and is working hard in the preseason. As is always the case during a coaching change, the Lady Rockets are working through the transition to a new system.
Faraci is working to focus her team on a concise list of goals. To turn things around, the new coach wants her team to improve their concentration, play a more controlled game by setting and placing the ball, and to improve their overall conditioning. If Roxbury accomplishes those ends, Faraci is confident they can be competitive.
Faraci is depending on four seniors for leadership. At sweeper, Jessica Utsler is a strong leader and a key to the defense. The senior sees the field and contains an oncoming offensive charge well.
In the midfield, Karly Bolger can go all day. “Karly is all heart,” praised Faraci. “She has great speed and just works, works, works.”
The remaining two seniors, Danyelle Greene and Marlise Cammer, share a spot on the forward line. Greene is the starting forward with experience as a striker. Cammer compliments her classmate well providing solid offensive support.
Heather Davie leads a troupe of eight capable juniors. Davie is making a shift from the forward line to center midfield, a key position on every soccer team. Davie has a solid skill set that makes the shift possible. Faraci reports the junior is working hard in her new role and, in time, is confidant Davie’s leadership skills will take emerge in her new location.
Haley Walcott and Rachel Meekes will we a big part of the offensive attack. Walcott impressed at center striker during play in the Minekill Tournament this weekend. The junior forward has a strong foot that should find the nets this fall. Meekes brings speed, strength, and good scoring potential to the forward wing.
Kayla Castillo will provide support on the forward line. Castillo has a great foot and could find herself in scoring situations near the goal. Alexa Finch could also see some time as a striker.
Junior Brianna George will start as an outside defensive fullback. George has a good understanding of the game and is a strong defender. Alexis Peters joins George on defense. Good foot skills and a strong work ethic serve Peters well. Faraci predicts that once the dust settles in the new season, Peters could see some time in the midfield.
Samantha Hamil is the first person off the bench and should see a lot of time playing defense. Hamil’s evolving skill set could see her helping out in the midfield, too.
Four sophomores round out the roster. Jenna Johnston played on the offensive line last year but is needed on defense. Faraci was impressed with the sophomore’s contributions in the Minekill tourney. “Jenna is a natural defender. She contains well and looked strong in our opening games,” explained Faraci.
One of the fastest players on the squad, Paulina Cowan is an outside midfielder. The sophomore is working very hard and showing rapid improvement. “Paulina will make an impact as she learns a bit more about the game and continues to build her skills.”
Raven Sprague adds additional defensive support and might even see some time in the midfield. Nevada Schuman, another defender, is out for at least two weeks with an injury.
Coach Faraci expects steady play from her goalie Tara DiBenedetto.
With her focus squarely on the development of her own team, Faraci has little to offer about other teams in the Delaware league. Look for Roxbury to begin making some noise as the season evolves and the Rockets acclimate to a new coach and a new style and system of play.