Goal scoring key issue for Roxbury RCS girls team

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By John Bernhardt
“Who’s going to put the ball in the back of the nets?” That’s the question Roxbury coach Lisa Faraci ponders as she prepares her squad for the 2013 soccer season. The answer to that question will be an important variable in the equation that measures the Rockets’ success on the field this fall.
“We’ll be competitive every time we play,” explained Faraci. “Our defense looks solid. How well we do could hinge on our offensive output.”
In seeking answers to the scoring riddle, Faraci is proposing a key position change moving last season’s sweeper, junior Shannon Sprague, to the forward line. Faraci believes if Sprague can merge her foot skills and knowledge of the game with an offensive mindset, the junior striker can find the nets. “Shannon needs to understand that she needs to take X number of shots and be hungry to get them as part of our offensive plan,” noted Faraci.

Looking for goals
To help generate offense, Roxbury’s coach is banking on a contribution from another junior, Lacey Stewart. From either the midfield or the forward line, Faraci sees Stewart and Sprague matching up to become a potential scoring tandem. Stewart was not available to play in the Rockets’ opener, a 2-0, home loss to Milford.
Speedy sophomore Devon Fox has emerging foot skills and should also score some goals. Like Stewart, Fox was unavailable for the Milford game leaving Faraci eager to see the Rockets’ full strength offense on the field at the same time.
Part of Faraci’s willingness to experiment with position changes in an attempt to score goals is the faith she has in her team’s defense. The defensive profile begins with senior Lisa Boyle, back for her third season in the goal. As was apparent in the opener, Boyke has a goalie mindset and great instincts in front of the net.
The gambit moving Sprague to the forward line only came about with the emerging assertiveness of another Sprague, sophomore Stacey. In a preseason scrimmage with Gilboa, Stacey Sprague proved to her coach she could be a mainstay for the defense at sweeper. “Stacey is gaining confidence and playing more and more assertively every day,” said Faraci.

Stepping up
Jade Meehan, another sophomore, earned defensive kudos as a freshman for her speed and ability to hawk the top scorers in the league. Meehan more than makes up for any mistakes that come with lack of experience with quickness, agility and relentless effort.
Liz Davis, a third year senior who missed her sophomore season with an ACL tear, came to camp this fall in prime shape and ready to play. An outside back last season, Faraci thinks her focused senior could be tackling a new role as the stopper.
Small but mighty, Taylor Peters is playing varsity soccer for the first time and has the versatility to move from line to line on the field as the game dictates. A pair of seniors, Kaelie Van Loan and Gina Candelaria will be a part of the defensive equation providing additional support on the back line.
Moving to the midfield, Faraci is expecting leadership and hustle from senior Erin Hubbell. “We need some support in the middle of the field and Erin is working hard to make a mark there,” said Faraci. Hubbell will get help from a senior classmate, Chloe O’Shaughnessy, who will take her gritty, hard working play as an outside ‘middie.’

Bringing experience
A junior, Allyce McIntosh, will bolster the midfield, although Faraci needs McIntosh to approach that assignment from an offensive perspective. McIntosh has been pushing herself hard during the preseason.
Megan Cronk, a junior, returns and will be seeing time on the forward line, with Hailey Mosley, a first year junior a possible defensive back.
Three sophomores move up from last year’s modified squad, each adapting to the faster paced more physical varsity game. Sierra Mattice played in the goal last year and his added some defensive work this fall. Caroline Davis flashes strong potential as a defender. And, Kendall Walcutt has shown some quickness and emerging ball skills on the forward line.
With many new faces, building team chemistry is an important part of the preseason as Faraci works to help her team solidify as a like-minded soccer force. Faraci knows her girls will play hard, an important team asset in a league the Roxbury coach predicts could be a wide-open chase.