The Stoughton High girls' soccer team will look to take another strong step in the right direction and contend for a postseason berth this season.
The team will look to improve on some of the weaknesses that hampered them last year and continue to build on all the positives.
If healthy and playing up to their ability, this group of resilient girls will be a very competitive team in the Hockomock League's Davenport Division.
Last season's record: 5-11-2
First game: Stoughton opens up its season September 7 when the team travels to Attleboro to take on the Bombardiers.
Head Coach: Gary Muello (second season at Stoughton High)
Captains: Seniors Niamh Fennessy, Megan Crimmins and Mackenzie McGrath
Burning Question: Who replaces Mikayla Williams and Alicia Macomber on offense?
Coach Muello has some thoughts on who can replace the former Stoughton stand-outs, who graduated last spring with the class of 2012.
"We have three fantastic captains this season. All seniors: Megan Crimmins, Niamh Fennessy and Mackenzie McGrath. All three have worked very hard during the off-season and now during our practice seasons to unify the Stoughton High School girl's soccer program. I am very proud of their commitment and efforts both on the field and off the field. The team looks to them for leadership and the three of them have been tremendous in handling their responsibilities."
Captain Niamh Fennessy also weighed in on the subject: "Losing our two main goal scorers is definitely going to be tough for us," she said, "so we are relying on the entire team to step up. Everyone is going to have to take any available shot they have. We're hopefully going to have a lot of contributors to get on the scoreboard."
Who is in net? Rachel Berkowsky, now a junior, started and played well for the Black Knights last fall.
"Junior, Rachel Berkowsky is the likely choice for the starting keeper this season," Muello said.
"Although to be fair to the other keepers and field players, I have made it clear that everyone on this team has to earn the right to play and start for both the Varsity and JV teams. Coach Daniels (JV Coach) and I will look at everyone during the course of the season and make daily decisions for game time starters. Different opponents present different tactical challenges during the games and we make player changes depending on many variables."
Outlook: When asked about their goals and expectations for the season, both Coach Muello and captain Niamh Fennessy had their own take on what they hope to see from the team this year.
Coach Muello stated, " We are looking for team unity. Bonding together as a TEAM to support each other. Back each other up especially in difficult situations. I would like to see both Varsity and Junior Varsity be very competitive in each game. Effort, heart, attitude, sportsmanship. Take our practice sessions and apply them during the game. High academic standards in the classroom should be on top of the list for our players."
Fennessy added, " I expect that the season will be more positive. We have been working very hard over the summer to prepare ourselves for competition in the difficult Hockomock League and I expect this to continue throughout the entire season. We hope to give it our all every single game, working together, which will hopefully lead to positive results."
Coach Muello preferred to weigh in on the strengths of his team rather than focus on any single weakness.
"Our captains working together and leading our team is a strength of ours. We have numbers this year, 42 student-athletes to work with. The BFS [Bigger Faster Stronger conditioning] program has been a part of the off-season training for many of the girls. I don't call it a weakness but we can always work on many of the technical and tactical aspects of the game. That is a priority at any level - high school, college, professional."
Muello praised key returning players: (Senior Captains) Megan Crimmins, Niamh Fennessy, Mackenzie Mcgrath, (Juniors) Rachel Berkowsky, Val Sammarco, Courtney Wagner, Sara Purcell and (Sophomores) Shelby Sprague and Mackenzie Palma. Muello also made sure to add that the team will miss senior Marlena Siegel who is out for the season due to an injury.
Fennessy talked about some new players that look to have an impact on the team,
"New addition Abbie Roane will help us tremendously with her technique and knowledge of the game. But everyone on the team brings a different aspect and skill set that adds to the cohesiveness and contributes to our success."
Some other new players mentioned by Muello who he sees as having an impact on the team include Sophomores, Emily Morgan, Yamie Ponce de Leon and Freshmen Karina McCune, Marissa Williams and Sam Tullis.