SOCCER: After winning their first NYSAIS championship last season, the seven graduating seniors have been replaced by a new set of eager players, including several freshmen.
After winning their first NYSAIS championship last season, the seven graduating seniors have been replaced by a new set of eager players, including several freshmen. Among the seven seniors are Co-Captains Samantha Kost, her twin sister Zoe, and Charlotte Boehnning. In all, 16 players returned to the team.
Although the Wildcats would be thrilled to make it to the championships again, Coach Alin Andrei’s main focus is on keeping the players healthy and using every practice and game to improve their technique and implement their style of play. “We need to work on all aspects of soccer every day.”
The team’s strengths, according to Coach Andrei, are the quality of the players, their work ethic, and their desire to improve. When asked about the standout athletes, he replied, “For us every player has a huge role on the team.”
The team is looking forward to a great season, which started September 9, post-press time, at home against Riverdale, the team they beat in penalty kicks in the 2014 State Championship.
Having lost only one match last season, the Wildcats are looking to do as well or even go undefeated. The top four singles players are returning and strong new freshmen will be vying for those spots as well. Senior Co-Captain Jasmine Kitahara has played top singles since she was a freshman and her co-Captain Hannah Weisman plays No. 1 doubles with Emily Moran.
Coach Jenny Smith says the team needs to work on closing out points while remaining consistent until that chance arises. She is looking forward to watching the team develop their strategic and competitive approach to the game as individuals and how they bond as a group. “It does not matter if they play No. 1 singles or No. 4 doubles, every spot on the team matters as much as the next and counts towards the team total, towards the win or loss. Therefore, it is really important to develop the team chemistry, as well as the individual talent.”
In addition to Kitahara, the players to watch are sophomores Sarah Walker and Kate Yamin and freshman Ashley Manning (whose sister is Co-Captain of the RHS Girls’ Tennis team), as well as the doubles team of Moran and Weisman.
This season includes two big changes: moving their home courts from Apawamis to SUNY Purchase, and adding two large public high schools, Mamaroneck and Harrison, to their calendar. They open at Mamaroneck High School September 17.
What happens when your team wins the NYSAIS title four years in a row and then 12 of the seniors, including four All-American players, graduate? That is the situation Coach Georgette Summers and the nine returning players are facing this season. As Summers says matter of factly, “You rebuild.” With 11 newcomers, this will certainly be a season, or seasons, of rebuilding.
Senior co-Captains Maddy Cooper and Charlotte Cooper (not related) will help the team learn, grow, and develop. Unfortunately, Maddy will have to lead from the sidelines as she is recovering from a torn ACL. The team is counting on Natalie Needle, Natalie Alpert, Cate Mollerus, and goalie Melanie Mandell will help fill the void.
With so many newcomers, the team is still working on developing team chemistry and situational play. Coach Summers is looking forward to helping the girls build confidence and trust in one another so the team can achieve its goals.
This team, a semblance of its former self, will host Riverdale on September 9.