TOWNSEND — Graduation was unkind to the North Middlesex girls soccer team as Shelby Aminti, Ally Watkins, Shelagh Daly, Kaitlyn Rossi, Catherine Murray, Madison Ledoux and Sarah Lieneck have wrapped up their careers and moved on. Veteran coach Charlie Valacer will look to a mixed bag of upperclassmen and underclassmen, experienced and inexperienced players as the Lady Patriots look to climb the ladder in 2010.
“Our strengths entering the season are that our team speed is improved from last season, and we have experience in spots,” said Valacer. “I am looking for the seniors to help bring the younger players along.”
One position that the Lady Patriots will be young at is in goal as freshmen Julia Murray and Mackensey Farina are competing for the starting berth.
“Julia is experienced, aggressive, fundamentally sound and she knows the position,” said Valacer. “Mackensey is athletic, has good size and is learning quickly. The girls have been sharing the duties and each may play a half every game, but both could see time on the field when they aren’t in goal, Julia at forward and Mackensey on defense.”
Three sure starters in the defensive end will be sophomore stopper/sweeper Maia Farrar, junior sweeper/center midfielder Emily Church, and sophomore fullback Katherine Hall.
“Maia has good skills and distributes the ball well,” said Valacer. “She is experienced, is an exciting player to watch and is a key in getting our transition game going. She will be an integral part of the team. Emily has good size and is aggressive to the ball. Defensively, she sees the field well and does a nice job of anticipating. Katherine has very good speed and a great work ethic. She is competitive and gets the toughest defensive assignment.”
Competing for a possible starting slot are junior Hailey Connor and senior Andra Malerbi.
“Hailey is aggressive, has been working hard and just needs to add experience,” said Valacer. “Andra came off the bench last year and goes to the ball well.”
Talented sophomore Alyssa Robinson will start somewhere, either on defense or at outside midfield.
“Alyssa is versatile and is capable of playing anywhere,” said Valacer. “She is one of most skilled players and is a well-rounded player who provides a number of options.”
Looking to create a niche in the defensive end will be seniors Alexandra Rios and Shannyn Pomeroy.
Three starters at midfield will be sophomore Kim Morgan on the outside, and senior captains Mackenzie Sharp and Lauren Ferro on the inside.
“Kim started at striker last season and she has shown the most improvement since last year,” said Valacer. “She has good speed, is tenacious, plays good defense and she has been a pleasant surprise. Mackenzie’s total game has improved through hard work. She has good size and has stepped up as a leader. Lauren started at outside midfield last season and she makes good decisions. She is a four-year starter with plenty of experience and she is vocal on the field.”
Also looking for time at midfield will be junior Haley Sullivan, who is up from the junior varsity team.
“Haley has good skills and speed,” said Valacer.
The starting forwards will be senior captain Shelby Koutrouba and junior Tara Daly.
“Shelby is quick and experienced and she goes to the ball aggressively,” said Valacer. “We are looking for goals from her this season. Tara came off the bench as a midfielder last season and has good technical skills and a good shot. She also passes well.”
Making a push for quality playing time up front is freshman Lauren Sheehan.”
“Lauren has made an impression,” said Valacer. “She has good skills with the ball and dribbles well. She has the ability to beat a defender one-on-one.
“I’m very pleased with the work ethic of the girls,” said Valacer. “They are willing to listen and learn, which is a good sign for the future. Our goal is to continue to improve with each game and the key to the season is to remain physically strong and to avoid mental letdowns.”