Lady Wreckers optimistically open the season
Nikki Ross hopes to change things as the new Staples girls soccer coach. A former player, Class '05, and the JV coach last year, Ross, who replaced Brian Scott as coach, hopes to end this revolving door of coaches.
"My goal is to be around for awhile," Ross said. "When I was here, we had a different coach every year and it's tough on the program. The girls like the fact that I went through the program and it makes me want to succeed. When I graduated from Staples, I didn't expect to be the head of the soccer program. It's exciting."
She's not exaggerating, as the Lady Wreckers had a different coach each year during her tenure. In fact, Scott has the longest tenure as head coach since 2001, as he served three years as Staples head coach, the first as a co-coach with Athletic Director Marty Lisevick.
Ross inherits a strong team with a strong senior class. The Lady Wreckers finished the regular season last year at 8-6-1, 9-8-1 overall and qualified for the FCIAC tournament for the second straight year. Although they will miss Julia Byrne, who is playing at Connecticut College, Kate Burke, who is playing at Trinity College, and the speedy Melanie Rubin, the team expects to do better because they have many strong returning players.
"I'm excited," Ross said. "It's overwhelming because there are big expectations for the program, but I hope to take them on and see what we can do with them. My big goal is create unity in the program. I want to have three strong teams instead of focusing solely on the varsity. We want the girls to support each other."
Senior captain Jaclyn Katz, who led the team in scoring and was an All-FCIAC and All-State selection last year, is back and starts at forward. Katz is a four-year starter and will probably play for a Division I program next year. Her speed and accuracy near the net created opportunities for junior Abby Lake, who also improved from last year.
Kelly Bohling and Shannon Moss are the other senior captains. Bohling was a Second Team All-FCIAC selection last year in recognition for her prowess as sweeper and was Staples' Secretary of Defense last year.
"We have a pretty strong defense," Bohling said. "We have to cover for each other, play together and be unified. We're strong throughout the field and as long as we do what we need to do and everyone does their job, we'll be fine."
The versatile and speedy Moss, who played at stopper and fullback in the past, will start at center midfield. Classmate Nikki Brill is rugged and athletic and joins her as the other starting center midfield. Together, Moss and Brill will be responsible for winning many balls and directing the transition.
"I think it's important to win 50-50 balls in the midfield and distribute to our forwards and backs," Moss said. "Nikki Brill and I are good at it and my position in the midfield is to be defensive-minded and my job is to go back and help Kelly Bohling on defense. With my speed, I'll be able to do it."
Brill is more of an offensive center midfielder. She attacked the net well the last two years. Classmates Julie Strickland and Sally Rowland play at outside midfield, with Strickland definitely starting. Lauren Kratky will start at fullback and when she returns from an injury, Nicole Rothschild will also see considerable time at fullback. Lauren Hodes rounds out the senior class and will play at fullback.
Complementing Lake from the junior class are Abby Fagen and Shannon Lesch, who played varsity as freshmen, at center midfield and outside midfield, respectively. Jessie Ambrose has quick reflexes and returns as the starting goalkeeper and twin sister Katie Ambrose will see time at outside midfield. Ali Crofts is aggressive and tenacious near the net and will see time at forward. Adele Mackey will contribute as a forward and midfielder and defender Colleen McCarthy rounds out the junior class.
Siri Andrews leads the sophomore class and will start at stopper. Andrews is tough and was the only one in her class to play on varsity last year. Ross is impressed with backup goalie Charlotte Massey and plans to give her playing time. Turner Block (forward), Ryan Kirshner (forward) and Julia Tziolis (fullback) round out the sophomore class.
"We're really excited this season," Katz said. "We worked hard since freshman year to build the program and the captains feel we have potential to do well and have big goals. We want to win FCIACs and believe we can do it. On a good day, we can play with anyone."