MCS girls prep for soccer season

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by John Bernhardt
Nobody appreciates the value of the preseason more than Margaretville girls’ varsity soccer coach Toni Smith. “We have three weeks to prepare,” Smith acknowledged. “Then the action is going to come fast and furious. We need to be ready.”

Smith’s Blue Devils open their season on September 4 in Jefferson. From the opener through September 22, Margaretville plays games almost every other day, 10 contests in all.
With a jam-packed schedule and the need to allow for recovery time, Smith understands the brunt of her team’s chances to hone foot skills and craft game situation strategy falls before Labor Day. And, Smith’s gang will need to be road warriors. Six of Margaretville’s first seven contests are played away from the friendly confines of Pete Palen Field.

“Our focus is fitness, skills, and team play,” emphasized Smith. “That’s goal number one.” Smith would love her Blue Devils to catch Davenport, perennial champions of the Delaware League’s Upper Division. But, the Margaretville coach understands that dethroning the Wildcats is secondary, only an afterthought without a laser like focus on priority number one.

Smith is excited about the leadership a strong core of seniors adds. “We have some great senior leaders. They work hard every day and are raising the bar for our younger players,” noted the seventh-year Margaretville head coach.

Starting in the defensive end, Kelsey Buerge returns for her final year as a potential sweeper. Focused and consistent, Smith knows Buerge doesn’t back down as the opposition advances and can count on her senior experience in assisting the younger players.

Tough on defense
Rachael Mathiesen could be teaming with Buerge as the Blue Devils’ stopper giving Margaretville an experienced senior presence on the defensive side of the field. Smith praised Mathiesen’s solid play and excellent game instincts at that vital position last season.

Moving forward, Raeann Bond, another senior, could be the center midfielder. A strong leader, Bond is a smart, durable player who uses the field well.

On the forward line returns Tess Svoboda, a first team Delaware League all-star in her junior year, and a potent scoring threat. Fit, fast, and fiercely determined, Svoboda has a versatile skill set allowing Smith to mix and match her positioning on the front line depending on how the defense marks the offensive star.

Every team has question marks. The biggest unknown for Margaretville involves tending the goal. Megan McKenna, the keeper on the 2011 team, has moved from the district. Smith is turning to another senior, Alexis Molnar, to fill the void. “Alexis has prepared herself for the challenge,” noted Smith. “She attended goalie camp in the summer and works very hard.”

Marisol Camano, the final Blue Devil senior, is playing organized soccer for the first time.
Smith will most likely be looking to a trio of sophomores to help fill some of the offensive hole left by the graduation of high scoring forward Amy Filupiet. In Cora Bruno, Jess Comado and Elia Tanzer, Smith has three promising players.

“These kids have great work ethics and sold skills,” praises Smith. Tanzer’s uncanny ability to finish impressed during her first varsity season. Smith will need to find added scoring punch as well as solid play in the midfield from the three sophomores.

Among the unknowns are; who will fill in open slots on the mid and defensive lines. Junior Cecilia Galatioto has a jumpstart as she returns with experience in both areas of the field. Three juniors, Kaitlin Short, Tiffany Nobile, and Annette Auchmoody could each provide valuable support, but, to date, Smith has not seen enough of the trio to decide where and how they might fit in.
A pair of sophomores, Lindsay Day and Alana Moskowitz, move up from the modified. As the season develops, they too could help out. Smith has been impressed with the commitment and work effort each brings to the field every day.

Another sophomore, Kim Fairbairn, will provide reinforcement in the goal.

Strategically, Smith feels her team will be strong defensively and hopes the preseason leaves the Blue Devils better prepared to execute a short, quick-pass offensive game that works the ball up the sides of the field with finishing crosses. Most important, emphasizes Smith, is arriving in Jefferson in early September well conditioned, with a singular team focus, ready to play.