Bouyed by a 5-0 preseason that included a 4-2 win over perennial state contender Pomperaug, the Staples girls soccer team is brimming with confidence ahead of the new season.
The real season begins Sept. 10 at Trinity Catholic, but the Wreckers are ready to spring a surprise and contend in the FCIAC that features a host of contenders.
"That was the ideal preseason for us to win all our games," senior defender Megan Root said. "There are things that we're still working on but we are optimistic about the season. We're setting ourselves goals and we're hoping to get there."
The Wreckers had five freshman starters at times during an 8-9 season and enter the fall with a blend of youth and experience. Root, a four-year starter, will anchor the defense along with junior captain Kate Lesch.
"Conceding as few goals as possible is always going to be important," Root said. "We want to take the pressure off our offense. ... When you're playing defense against a (a top team), you have to play as a team; one-on-one isn't going to work. Being coordinated at the back and providing support to the offense as much as possible is important."
The Wreckers will be led by Barry Beattie, who served as an assistant to previous head coach Heather Driscoll for two seasons. Though stability doesn't guarantee anything, it's a welcome change as Beattie becomes the third coach in four seasons.
"It was definitely good to hear that we were going to have some continuity," Root said. "This is my third coach in four years of high school; to have someone I already knew helped a little bit."
"Mary is a great shot stopper, we just have to bring out the confidence a little bit more," Beattie said. "Emily Snow done a lot of work over the summer working on her game; we have 3 very good goalkeepers."
Maggie Walsh (Fairfield University) and Lauren Garcia (Seton Hall) are a pair of seniors headed to Division I schools that will operate in midfield for the Wreckers this fall. Sophomores Charlotte Rossi and Lydia Shaw could form a devastating duo up front for Staples, which struggled to score goals against the tougher defenses a year ago.
Beattie is setting a goal of qualifying for the FCIAC and Class LL tournaments despite being optimistic that there is serious potential in the team. The Wreckers last qualified for the FCIAC playoffs in 2010.
"We set our target, then possibly we might change it during the season," Beattie said.
Beattie also wants to establish a winning culture within the side, and he believes that can begin this year.
"In my opinion Staples has always had the players; we just didn't have the full belief we can beat the top teams," Beattie said. "We've always competed with the top teams; we've just never got across the line. This year that confidence can help the team through."