Staples fall preview: Girls soccer aims to deliver encore
Updated 11:36 am, Wednesday, September 2, 2015
If the Staples girls soccer team is going to repeat last year’s success of winning a share of the FCIAC title and advancing deep into the state playoffs, a massive reshuffling of the center of the field is going to have to take place.
As second-year coach Barry Beattie put it, the spine of the team — goalie Mary Bennewitz, center defender Meg Root, center midfielders Maggie Walsh and Chloe Rosenfield and attacking midfielder Lauren Garcia — have all graduated.
The Wreckers went 14-3-5 a year ago and advanced to the Class LL quarterfinals in addition to their FCIAC triumph — a 1-1 draw with Fairfield Warde after extra time.
There is still plenty of talent in the group led by a strong junior class. Tia Zajec played on the wings last season and will be moved inside to get more touches on the ball.
“We want to get (Zajec) more involved,” Beattie said. “She understands the game very well and is one of the best technical players on the team.”
Attacking players Lydia Shaw and Charlotte Rossi, along with defender Elizabeth Mitas will be the captains for Staples this year. Mitas is one of just two seniors on the team and missed most of her junior season with an unusual injury that would be nearly possible to intentionally duplicate.
First came an ankle sprain while stepping off a curb. Then while walking towards the soccer field at an away scrimmage in preseason, she bent down to pick up a field hockey ball that had gotten away. The ball bounced straight off her forehead, and the concussion symptoms lasted two months.
“It was frustrating because it took so long to come back,” Mitas said. “It took a year (and playing with her club team) to get all the way back.”
Back in the fold as starting right back, Beattie is excited to see what she can bring to the group.
“(Mitas) defends well, she’s strong, she’s quick; her positional sense is great and she offers us a threat going forward,” Beattie said.
The three captains played with one another from kindergarten through U14 and again for their high school team.
“Even though we lost a lot of seniors, I see a lot of potential from last year,” Mitas said. “Our connection is great; we’re a really tight group.”
Sophomore goalie Anna Sivinski will take over for three-year starter Bennewitz, and Beattie believes there won’t be a drop off between the two.
“(Sivinski’s) distribution is excellent and she can clip goal kicks long,” Beattie said. “Her biggest quality is her level of communication. She organizes better than some of the older kids. She’s always talking and she brings a lot to the team.”
Several of Staples’ tough tests come early — Sept 18 against Ridgefield and Sept. 25 against Greenwich — and some come late - including a three games in a week against New Canaan, Wilton and Warde in October, teams that all made the FCIAC playoffs last year.
“Because our junior class is so big, we’ve replaced our seniors with juniors,” Beattie said. “In terms of physicality and the size of the team I don’t think we’ve lost anything.”