Fall sports preview: Freshmen give Lady Wrecker booters high hopes
Updated 12:00 am, Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Usually, when a team loses many top players, it's cause for concern and the upcoming season looks like a rebuilding year.
That's not the case for the Staples girls soccer team. Although Staples lost two All-FCIAC players who are playing in college from last year's 13-5-3 squad, it's confident it will reload instead of rebuild this fall.
"I'm definitely really excited about our team," Lady Wreckers Coach Nikki Ross said. "We lost a lot of seniors and we have a young team but I'm impressed with how we're meshing with each other. We should do as well, if not better than last year."
Staples had its best season in at least 15 years last year, winning its first FCIAC playoff game of the current millennium and advancing to the Class LL quarterfinals, where it lost 3-2 in overtime to Hamden. The Lady Wreckers will miss their leading scorer, First Team All-FCIAC and All-State striker Jaclyn Katz, who is playing for Cornell University. They will also miss First Team All-FCIAC midfielder Nikki Brill, who is playing for Bates College, Second Team All-FCIAC defender Kelly Bohling, who is playing for Fairfield University, dependable midfielder Shannon Moss and defender Lauren Kratky, who scored two goals on free kicks in a 2-1 Class LL playoff win over Southington.
"We had juniors last year who stepped up and they will be better this year as seniors and we have some good freshmen on this year's team," Ross said. "The freshmen impressed me at tryouts."
Senior quad-captain Abbey Lake said, "I'm excited and I think we'll have a very good season. We hope to do better than last year. We lost a lot but we gained a lot and we'll do better than last year."
Echoing Lake is senior quad-captain Abby Fagan. She said, "I'm definitely excited for the upcoming season. Even though we lost a lot of seniors from last year, we have a lot of returning underclassmen and freshmen. The freshmen are good, played well in the jamboree and they will contribute."
Lake returns as a starting striker and was the team's second-leading scorer last year. Fagan starts in the midfield and has been a force all four years. Staples faces one hurdle with senior quad-captain midfielder Shannon Lesch sidelined for at least the beginning of the season with an injured jaw. Lesch is a steady force in the midfield and will be missed.
"She's still a part of the team and can do a lot by being vocal," Ross said. "I feel bad she can't be out there but I'm glad she's sticking with the team. She'll be a great captain on and off the field."
Lesch said, "It's not easy but I'm happy to be supported by a great group of girls and I'm happy to be a part of the team."
Goalie Jessie Ambrose is the other senior quad-captain and only captain who didn't play varsity freshman year. Ambrose is an athletic and aggressive goalie who came up big in many games last year.
"I'm excited being a senior with an increased leadership role and I'm looking forward to a good year," Ambrose said. "I think this year will be better than last year. We have a lot of team chemistry and a lot of new girls who can help us out."
Seniors Ali Crofts and Adele Mackey will see action at forward with Crofts providing a lot of speed and tenacity. Other seniors include Katie Ambrose (midfield), Colleen McCarthy (center back), Alex Wiener (defense) and Lisa Shirafuji (defense), who missed last year with an injury.
Siri Andrews is athletic and tough in the backfield and leads a talented group of juniors. Andrews played varsity freshman year and started last year. Turner Block (midfield) and Ryan Kirschner (forward and midfield) are explosive players capable of scoring and possess speed. Julia Tziolis (outside back) and Callie Ahlgrim (backup goalie) round out the junior class.
The Lady Wreckers aren't conceding anything and are confident they will improve.
"I think we'll be better than last year," Ambrose said. "We have a lot of team chemistry and a lot of new girls who can help us. We're as good as any team and we'll take it game by game. The best team doesn't always win in soccer. The key is finishing and the goalie making big stops."