[Editor's note: The following information was submitted by the Staples Girls Soccer Varsity team.]
The Staples Girls Varsity team had their preseason scrimmages at Conard High School in West Hartford this weekend.
Second-year Coach Heather Driscoll added 11 new players to the varsity squad this year, seven from the freshman class.
Driscoll’s squad faced William Hall High School (West Hartford) in the first match and won 2-0. Freshman Charlotte Rossi started her varsity career by scoring in the first five minutes. Receiving a nice pass from the midfield, Rossi turned and fired a bullet that the Hall goalie wasn’t able to handle. Staples controlled the ball most of the game with Senior Captain Meghan Lonergan and Junior Captain Megan Root anchoring the defense. The second goal came from a free kick hammered by Root just over the goalie’s reach.
Senior Captain Gea Mitas and junior Maggie Walsh controlled the middle of the field shutting down any Hall attack and advancing the ball. Coach Driscoll rotated junior Paige Murray, freshman Claire Lonergan, sophomore Kate Lesch, sophomore Elizabeth Mitas and senior Caitlin Hoberman defensively, each one picking up where the last left off.
Staples’ second game versus Berlin High School showed the team’s lack of familiarity. A few good passes were just off the mark and some combinations were slow to develop. The game ended with a 0-0 tie, but the freshmen showed their grit by challenging every ball and forcing some bad passes from Berlin. Freshmen Lydia Shaw, Morgan McWhirter, Tia Zajec, Katherine Epstein, Claire Lonergan and Julia Agardh showed they could hold their own at the varsity level. Senior defensive back Caitlin Hoberman and Sophomore Elizabeth Mitas added defensive support for goalie Junior Emily Snow, who made her first career start for the varsity team. Juniors Addy Fowle and Paige Murray caused havoc in the middle and never let Berlin gain control.
The third game of the day showed how quickly good soccer players can learn to play with each other. Staples faced a bigger Bristol team and came away with a 3-0 win. In the first minute, the girls adjusted to each other and the passes that just missed in the game before were now finding each other’s feet in full stride. Junior Lauren Garcia started the scoring when she picked up a loose ball just outside the box and popped the ball to the far post. Garcia and Shaw developed a nice give and go up the right side for a few scoring opportunities. Defense was strong with Mary Bennewitz very effective both in the goal and coming off her line to quickly neutralize attacks.
Meanwhile, Mitas, Walsh, Senior Sydney Crossfield and Freshman Morgan McWhirter connected multiple times that stretched the Bristol defense. Freshman Tia Zajec joined the fun when she fired a shot that bounced off the cross bar. Garcia found the net again after receiving a pass from Shaw originating from Lesch on the right side. Garcia punched another shot over the goalie’s reach. The third goal came from Garcia's corner kick which found fellow Junior Maggie Walsh, who created space and out jumped everyone to head it in.
Communication and passing on the field was remarkable for a team with so many new players. As Coach Driscoll stated after the third game, “The team is off to a great start. We moved the ball well and were pretty organized defensively. I'm excited to see where this group of girls can go.”
The next scrimmage will be Friday, Sept. 6 versus Pomperaug High School at Leoffler Field behind Staples High.