The seven area girls soccer teams return to the field this week and there’s influx of young talent that should make for an exciting 2019 season.
There are also a pair of new faces among the coaching ranks. Kylee McIntosh takes over at her alma mater in Cheshire and Chuck Ubaldi takes over at Wilcox Tech.
Sheehan and Lyman Hall are expected to be improved and Southington has reloaded after a one-loss campaign and the graduation of Record-Journal Girls Soccer Player of the Year Alijah Vega.
Platt and Maloney are both coming off of rebuilding years and have talent that is a year older.
Here’s a deeper look at the Record-Journal teams.Southington
The Blue Knights flourished with a 15-1 record and won the CCC West championship in 2018 before a heartbreaking loss to Simsbury on penalty kicks in the Class LL state tournament.
Along with Vega, a two-time All-State defender, the Lady Knights graduated goaltender Olivia Sherwood and forward Natalie Verderame.
All three were All-CCC and All-Record-Journal players. Sherwood totaled 11 shutouts as a senior and Verderame finished with 34 goals and 22 assists over her four-year varsity career.
Despite the graduation losses, Southington is stacked with eight key returners. Emma Panarella, Katherine Crouse and Jordan Beaudoin are the senior captains. Panarella is an All-CCC midfielder. Crouse and Beaudoin are center backs.
Southington also has a strong junior class with center backs Abigail Sowa and Morgan Hubert and forwards Allison Carr and Shannon Litchfield.
Sophomore Maya Wroblewski and freshman Jessica Carr loom as valuable center midfielders — Carr, according to Southington coach Mike Linehan, is the “top freshman in the state.”
“The core of the team is returning after a 15-1 season and we are very optimistic about the upcoming season,” Linehan said.
“The team has many players with ECNL premier experience and has been preparing for the season to avenge the disappointing overtime PK loss in the 2018 tournament,” Linehan added. “Leadership from the returning players and team chemistry will be some of the keys for us to be successful.”
Sherwood is playing at Becker College in Worcester, Mass. Another 2019 grad, Logan Fischer, is playing at Wentworth Institute in Boston. Cheshire
The Rams are under the watch of first-year coach Kylee McIntosh. She inherits a squad that finished 7-7-4 last season and lost in the SCC Tournament semifinals to Shelton and in the Class LL first round to Trumbull.
The Rams also lost a big senior class highlighted by Paige Perez, Kayla Agostinelli, Kaitlyn Loura and Lila McNamee. Loura and McNamee were All-RJ selections.
The seniors leading the 2019 roster are midfielder/forwards Caroline Campion, Marisa Brough and Kayla Byrne, forward Amelia Pellegrino, and midfielder/defenders Sophia Offerdahl and Bella Parete.
The juniors are goalie Seymone Rosenberg, defenders Izzy Pellegrino and Aish Benzy, midfielder/forwards Ellie Pergolotti and Kristen Daddi, midfielder/defender Dani Ellis, and Julia Hendricki, who just might be used at all three levels of the field.
Briana Geloso and Ariana Geloso are sophomore midfielder/forwards. Izzy Dziura is a sophomore midfield/defender.
Freshman forward/midfielder Gabby Tirado and forward/midfielder/defender Anna Hurlbut have cracked the varsity roster.
“Our word for the season is grit,” McIntosh said. “The ability to have mental and physical toughness as individuals and as a team.”
Campion is committed to Division I Marist. Sophomore Olivia Jones will miss the season with an ACL tear.Lyman Hall
The Trojans went winless last year with an 0-16 mark in Tony Crane’s fourth year as head coach.
Key losses were Carly Jacobs and Julia Blanchard. Jacobs was a two-time All-RJ selection for her performance as a defender and midfielder.
As LH turns the page to 2019, they will be led by senior captains Ally Carbutti (forward), Jordan Smith (defender) and Alexis Eaton (midfielder). Carbutti is coming back from an injury that cost her the 2018 season.
Midfielders Adrianna Fernicola and Julia Limosani, along with midfield/defender Jess Garcia, are the other seniors on the roster.
Juniors Stella Blanchard, Grace Gagliardi and Marissa Guidet are midfielders. Other juniors are forwards Faerin Parker and Adrianna Viniczay and keeper/midfielder Marissa Newman.
Caitlyn Giannini (midfield), Kaleigh McCann (defender), Brianna Nugent (midfield/forward), Sydney Raffles (defender) and Shianna Reeves (defender/midfielder) are the sophomores on the Trojans.
Freshman Callie Casulla, Kelsey Newman and Emma Jacobs have also made the team.
“Looking to play smart, solid soccer,” said Crane, who is assisted by Kari Eves and Faerin Parker.Sheehan
The Titans have a deep team and will look to build on a 6-9-1 campaign under Rob Huelsman.
Sheehan was third in the SCC Housatonic with a 4-3-1 divisional mark.
Rayna Esch (2018 Sheehan valedictorian), Julia Podchaiski (playing at Mass Maritime) and Kelly Musante (playing at Albertus Magnus) were the key losses.
Sheehan’s senior captains this season are defender/midfielders Marley Esch and Olivia Cuticelli (defender/midfielder) and All-State forward Olivia Dubuc, who tallied 15 goals and eight assists last year as a junior. She’s been a All-SCC selection the last two years and All-RJ as a junior.
In addition to the captains, other top returning Sheehan seniors are goalie Jess Izzo and midfielders Grace Waldron, Bethany Gray, Kara Sullivan and Katie Cappetta.
Goalie Beth Arnold and defender Lexi Carim are the returning juniors. Sheehan has four sophomore defenders in Alicea Piscitelli, Ashley Bunnell, Elaina D’Angelo and Patrice Mansfield.
Other returners and newcomers include sophomore Amy Casorla and juniors Olivia Violette, Sam Barone, Madison Yasgar and Clarisse Aminawung. All are midfielders
Five freshmen made the varsity squad: forward/midfielder Dylan Smith, midfielder Katelyn Casorla and midfielder/defenders Sydney Cuticelli, Lyndsey Bunnell and Casey Deans.
“Our goal is to win our division,” Huelsman said. “This season we have a lot of depth in many positions with players having varsity experience.
“This year we also bring a very skilled team of underclassmen that can give us that extra lift playing late in the season and into the SCC and state tournament.”Maloney
The Spartans are coming off of a 2-10-4 campaign in Eoin McClure’s fifth campaign as head coach.
Maloney was young last year, though did graduate a trio of big contributors in Alexa Papallo, Kyra Milloy and Avery Graham. Papallo was All-RJ.
Everyone else is back, including sophomore Mackenzie McCormack, who made All-CCC as a freshman midfielder.
The seniors are defender Liv Aitken and midfielders Hannah Showerda, Ally Grignano, Grace Tompkins and Bella Robison. All five are team captains.
The Lespier twins, Abby and Haley, head the junior class. Abby is the incumbent in goal and Haley is a defender.
Emma Szymaszek and Sylvia Lavin are additional junior defenders and Audra Kopcza is a junior forward.
The sophomore class is deep, with Michaela Wrinn, Aleyna Boluk and Caroline Reardon in the midfield, Robyn Martorelli and Lily Marcuss on defense, and Amal Bahili at forward.
A big reason for excitement in the program is the list of promising newcomers. There are 10 incoming freshmen: Macy Figlewski, Daisy Delgado, Carlin Jachym, Molly Marcuss, Abbey McClure, Sophie Boulier, Deja Riddle, Ellie Cloutier, Haley Nawrocki and Maddy Plumberg.
“Our goal is to make states,” McClure said. “Although we have a tough schedule, with our core of upperclassmen and our talented freshman class, we are hoping to improve on last year’s record.”Wilcox Tech
Chuck Ubaldi enters his first year at the helm for the Tribe. He inherits a 10-5-2 squad that fell to Oxford in the first round of the state tournament.
The Indians graduated eight seniors off the roster, including All-Stater Katie Kearney. Also departing were Tatiana Gonzalez, Valerie Espinosa, Lily Ruiz and Rosalinda Hernandez.
Leading the roster in 2019 are midfielder Jaylin Estrada and defender Emily Izzo, both seniors.
Midfielder/forward Mylin Bennet, defender Mia DiBlasi, goalie Morgan Herzman, midfielder/goalie Melani Medina, defender Iris Miranda -Ramirez and forward/midfielder Alexa Sanchez make up the junior class.
A trio of sophomores is back: midfielder Esmeralda Aguirre and midfielder/forwards Mara Sepulveda and Nataly Strout.
The Indians also have a pair of promising newcomers in defender/midfielders Alexandra Cardenas and Perla Diaz. Cardenas is a freshman, Diaz a sophomore.
“A really good energetic group of student athletes,” Ubaldi said. “Despite losing eight seniors, we will compete with effort and teamwork. Win, lose or draw, we will work hard as a team in a tough league. Defense and goalkeeping will be critical. The team will work hard.”Platt
The Panthers went 2-11-3 in their initial year under coach Danny Gutierrez.
Platt will be without four-year starter Lizzie Garlock, a three-time All-RJ selection. Julia Misner and Daniela Sevilla were also key losses for the Panthers.
Numbers do not favor Platt this season. The roster numbers 22 and the Panthers have opted to go without JV and freshman teams.
Gutierrez.will lean heavily on the four captains, three seniors and one junior. Two-year captain Anani Gutierrez will serve as a center back along with fellow senior captain Nayely Galvez-Salazar. Defensive midfielder Samantha Izzo is another senior captain. Incumbent goalie Charlotte Vega is back and will be a junior captain.
Other seniors on the roster are midfielder Kaylen Aiach, midfielder/forward Jasmina Mujkanovic, reserve goalie Alexis Williams and senior Jhosselyn Jaramillo.
Vega heads the junior class along with midfielder/forward Mya Flis and midfielder Brittney Malackanich.
One big bright spot is the arrival of two freshman defenders who will slot right into the starting lineup: Kaylani Avila and Ava Perez.
“It’s going to be a rebuilding year,” said Gutierrez, who will be assisted by Marisa Volo. “A lot of the younger girls have never played before. I’m teaching the fundamentals of soccer. This is going to be a hard year for the team, the seniors and for the captains, but we are going to need them to pick this team up, especially with our numbers.”