The Main Line high school girls’ soccer scene should feature some top-quality teams once again this fall. Last year, the Conestoga girls were undefeated in the Central League, Baldwin School posted its best-ever record, and many other Main Line squads were solid contenders in their respective leagues. The same should be true in 2017. Here’s a look at the Main Line high school girls’ soccer teams are they kick off the 2017 fall campaign:
Head coach: Mike Welsh, second year.
Last year’s record: 4-6-2
Key returnees: sophomore goalie Sarah McConnon, senior defender Heni Danson, senior defender Annie Ulichney, junior defender Grace Bartosh, sophomore midfielder Amelia Leyden, sophomore striker Natalie Pansini, senior striker Maria Pansini.
Others to watch: sophomore defender Eve Frankel, sophomore midfielder Julianne Carey, senior midfielder Mary Naylor.
Lost to graduation: midfielder Annie McConnon (Providence College), goalie Kendall Shein (Pomona), midfielder Alicia O’Neil (playing lacrosse for Cornell).
Outlook: Welsh said, “We have lost some very important players down the spine of our team that will be difficult to replace. That being said, we have a young and exciting team this year that will continue to improve over the next few years and I expect us to be just as competitive as we were last year, hopefully even more so.”
Head coach, Frank Olszewski, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 6-6-2 in Catholic League.
Key returnees: senior defender Claire Boylan, senior forward Rachel Matey (was All-Catholic League last year), senior defender Lara Ramirez (was All-Catholic League last year), senior goalkeeper Grace Gallagher, senior midfielder Lauren Nigro, junior forward Paige Mastripolito (was All-Catholic League last year), junior defender Madison Henry.
Others to watch: sophomore defender Kellie-Ann Matey, junior midfielder Lexi Hagan.
Lost to graduation: midfielder Bella Sorrentino (playing for Temple University), defender Morgan Rake.
Outlook: The Patriots possess stingy goalkeeping and a seasoned defense. Forwards Rachel Matey and Paige Mastripolito return as their No. 2 and 3 goal scorers from 2016. Olszewski said, “Bella Sorrentino will be impossible to replace, but the team will strive for a new identity. Our team must find a way to get results against the likes of Wood, Ryan and Lansdale Catholic to finish in the top half of the table. [Our] decent young soccer talent and quality veteran leadership seem to indicate that we should be ‘in the mix’ in the PCL in 2017.”
Head coach: Adrian Cox, third year.
Last year’s record: 17-7 overall, 6-6 Inter-Ac.
Key returnees: senior defender Olivia Dewitt, senior midfielder Marissa McGarrey, senior defender Carly McIntosh, senior midfielder Rachel White, junior defender Natalie Sgro, junior forward Gia Vicari.
Others to watch: junior goalkeeper Simi Bleznak, junior defender Lauren Bracken, junior midfielder Celia Page, junior midfielder Juliet Paiva, junior midfielder Lexi Phelan, sophomore midfielder Alex Loomis.
Lost to graduation: midfielder Jennifer Dietrich (Bucknell University), defender Kahlaa Cannady (Swarthmore College).
Outlook: 2016 was the best season in the history of Baldwin soccer, as the team set the following school records – most wins (17), shutouts (11), goals scored (53), least goals allowed (27) – and went undefeated in its non-league games (10-0). Gia Vicari set the single season scoring record with 27 goals.
Baldwin head coach Adrian Cox said, “We return 10 starters and are determined to use our balanced attack and organized defense to continue leading the program to new heights. Our biggest strength is the positive team culture. Everyone enjoys playing together, working hard and having fun on and off the field. We are an experienced, fit, skilled, smart and fearless group. Our non-league schedule (Conestoga, Westtown, Shipley, Friends’ Central, Archbishop Ryan, Hill among others) will prepare us for the rigors of Inter-Ac League play.
“We lost two key senior leaders (co-captains Jennifer Dietrich and Kahlaa Cannady) who were instrumental in building the program. It will be interesting to see what players emerge as on field leaders. Also, the season is very long and it’s important that we are mentally and physically ready to play every opponent. We now have a target on our backs and will be getting every team’s best effort.
“We need to play with poise under pressure, stay healthy, work hard, fight through adversity and enjoy the season. If we do that then the results will come and it should be another successful and historic season for the Polar Bears.”
Barrack Hebrew Academy
Head coach: Ben Wilson, second year.
Last year’s record: 16-3-4 overall, 9-0-2 Central League.
Key returnees: Senior center back Hannah Morgan (Providence College commit, All-State and NSCAA All-Region 2016); sophomore forward Caitlin Donovan (team’s leading scorer and first team All-Main Line in 2016); junior forward Nia Scott (second on team in scoring last year).
Others to watch: senior midfielder Rachel Dirico, senior midfielder Caitlyn Ellerbeck, senior forward Ariel Loevy, sophomore defender Calista Courtney.
Lost to graduation: midfielder Madie French (playing lacrosse at Dickinson College); defender Dana Cicchitti, goalie Colleen Baldwin.
Outlook: Wilson said, “Our biggest strength is that we are returning most of our roster from last year’s successful season, and we’ll be adding in quite a bit of talent from last year’s JV teams and a talented rising ninth grade class as well. In our defensive spots, three of the four members of last year’s back line are returning this season including center-back Hannah Morgan. Our biggest challenges are to stay healthy, and to try to be a bit more clinical in our finishing. We are also going to be missing senior Ceara Sweeney, who started most games for us at the holding midfield spot last season, but suffered an ACL tear during lacrosse state tournament back in the spring.”
Head coach: Andy Fraggos, second year.
Last year’s record: 14-6 overall, 9-3 Inter-Ac.
Key returnees: senior goalkeeper Hannah Moriarty, senior defender Julia DePillis, senior midfielder Annie Doig, junior midfielder Anna Salvucci, junior defender Maddie Loughead, junior midfielder Izzy Rohr, junior midfielder Olivia Dirks, sophomore midfielder Lauren Cunningham, sophomore forward Raina Kuzemka, sophomore defender Laila Payton, sophomore defender Devon Whitaker.
Others to watch: senior midfielder Brooke Kelly, senior midfielder Josie Konopka.
Lost to graduation: forward Molly O’Brien (Loyola University), defender Lilly Shaner.
Outlook: EA has a large 2017 returning class with varsity experience; including nine starters and 14 players who received significant varsity minutes. Five of EA’s top seven goal scorers in 2016 came from freshmen and sophomores.
Fraggos said, “It was a heartbreaking loss in 2016 when Molly O’Brien went down with an ankle injury 10 games into the season. It’s always challenging to unexpectedly replace someone the team leaned on so much in our attack, who was on course for a 20-goal, 20-assist season. In the second half of our season, we had to put the majority of goal scoring on the shoulders of underclassmen (Rohr, Salvucci, Cunningham, and Kuzemka), who stepped up to the challenge.”
Although EA lost goalkeeper Morgan Messner to Penn Fusion’s Developmental Academy for her senior season, the Churchwomen return senior goalkeeper Hannah Moriarty, who split minutes with Morgan for the majority of the 2016 season.
Head coach: Luke Nowell, third year.
Last year’s record: 9-6-4 overall, 6-1-1 Friends’ School League
Key returnees: senior midfielder Emily Lorry, senior center back Morgan Crowley, senior forward Ava Forman, junior midfielder Phebe Guenther.
Others to watch: sophomore center back Izzy MacFarlane, sophomore midfielder Caroline Blackman, junior forward Zoe Shoemaker, sophomore defender Brynne Menen.
Lost to graduation: center midfielder Lorna MacFarlane (Dartmouth), forward Hayden Posencheg (playing lacrosse for Duquesne University), defender Hannah Posencheg (playing lacrosse for Dickinson), defender Olivia Comstock (Wesleyan).
Outlook: Nowell said, “This will be both the youngest and most technical group we have had in recent years. Our biggest challenge will be to quickly acclimate our younger players both to our system and the rigors of high school soccer. If we can do that however, we will play an outstanding style – competing at a high level and continuing to build for the future.”
Head coach: Jeff Rhodes, eighth year.
Last year’s record: 9-7-1 overall, 5-5-1 Central League (tied for sixth place).
Key returnees: senior midfielder Morgan Rees, junior midfielder Gabriela Mazzoni, junior midfielder Sophie Edelblut, junior defender Allie Schwab, junior defender Reilly Short.
Others to watch: sophomore defender Taylor Shinal, sophomore midfielder Grace Honeyman, junior forward Sydney Kobak, sophomore defender Charisma Hasan.
Lost to graduation: defenders Amanda Costa, Juliet Milani and Ella Milani; midfielders Filippa Graneld, Carly Harad, Marlee Zales and Nadine Horneck; goalie Sarah Root.
Outlook: Rhodes said, “We return a handful of starters down the middle of our field that we will heavily rely upon. Given that we graduated seven starters last spring, we look to gain valuable experience while trying to be competitive in the Central League.”
Head coach: Alexandra Marrone, fifth year.
Last year’s record: 14-3-1 overall, 7-3-1 Central League.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Cece Peden, senior midfielder Sadie Gold, junior forward Annalena O’Reilly, junior goalie Alison Durfee.
Others to watch: senior defender Nora Janzer, senior defender Grace Drames, junior midfielder Brit Riegler.
Lost to graduation: defender Brianna Blair (Cabrini).
Outlook: Marrone said, “We are a solid team with a good mix of veteran players and strong newcomers. After missing her junior season to a knee injury, Cece Peden is working her way back into the mix and will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. Our back line has big shoes to fill after only allowing six goals in the regular season last year. With the help of junior goalkeeper Alison Durfee, our defense is ready to take on the challenge.”
Head coach: Kevin Ries, 16th year.
Last year’s record: 9-8-1 overall, 4-7 Central League.
Key returnees: senior goalie Lindsey Palish, senior defender Jen Dean, senior forward Sophie Riverso, senior defender Kaitlin Vagnoni, junior midfielder Isabelle Kuszyk, junior midfielder Bella Peterson, junior forward Lilly Elman, sophomore defender Teresa Cato, sophomore midfielder Aviva Kosto.
Others to watch: freshman forward Maya Masotti, freshman forward Laura Getselman, freshman defender Hannah Shalaby.
Lost to graduation: Julia Utkus, Lizzie D’Alonzo, Lexie Sutton, Alexa Cotler.
Outlook: Ries said, “Our biggest strength is our defense, led by our senior goalie Lindsey Palish, and senior defenders Jen Dean and Kaitlin Vagnoni. We also have experience and speed up top led by Sophie Riverso and Lilly Elman. Our midfield will be anchored by three year starters Isabelle Kuszyk and Bella Peterson. We are blessed to have an outstanding freshman class which includes several talented players that will contribute immediately. One of our biggest challenges is to integrate these new players into our system and develop players that can contribute off the bench. We want to remain competitive in the difficult Central League and return to Districts.”
Merion Mercy Academy
Head coach: Reinaldo Olivo, second year.
Last year’s record: 7-9-2.
Key returnees: senior goalie Leah McCray, junior midfielder/defender Teresa Hegarty and Michelle Giannini.
Others to watch: senior Quinn Guilday, sophomores Sophia Giangiordano and Kate Moran, and freshman Natale Coughlin.
Lost to graduation: Caila Olivo and Michaela Coppinger (Temple University).
Outlook: The Golden Bears won seven games last year, which was more than the prior three years combined, getting key wins against Villa Maria and Gwynedd Mercy. Olivo said, “The strength of our team is our youth and it also is a weakness. Although we lost two amazing goal scorers who combined made up for 80 percent of our goals, the team is dedicated to the growth and demands of our program. I am changing the culture that existed prior to me coming to, and coaching at, Merion, to one of being competitive and learning how to play this game in its simplest form. The players are believing in themselves and in each other, and that is half the battle.”
Head coach: Matthew Hood, first year.
Last year’s record: 3-14-5 overall, 0-10-2 Inter-Ac.
Key returnees: Hood said, “We have a number of players returning that are leaders of the team and are ready for the beginning of the season.”
Others to watch: Hood said, “Every player on the team is critical for success not just one or two but everyone.”
Outlook: Hood said, “A coaching change can be difficult for players to handle. Being the assistant coach last season, I am not concerned with this group of girls. I am very familiar with the 13 returning girls. Bringing in eight new girls to the varsity team it will be important for the team to start playing as a team as quickly as possible. The returning girls went through an injury-plagued season last year so the main focus besides working on our technical and tactical abilities would have to be injury prevention. With the congested schedule of high school soccer and many of the girls participating in club soccer, balance is critical in order to maintain the team’s health through a long season. I am very excited to see what the team brings to the field this season.”
Head coach: Dakota Carroll, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 10-6-1, Friends’ School League champions.
Key returnees: senior center back Cami Johnson, senior center mid Eliza Green, senior center mid Bela Trachtenberg, senior forward Sophia Piasecki, junior goalie Grace Gordon, sophomore center mid Hannah Brainsky, sophomore midfielder Alivia Hamilton, sophomore center back Sarah Cotetta.
Others to watch: freshman goalie Abby Aughe, freshman midfielder Georgia Paynter, freshman forward Katie Bergen.
Lost to graduation: forward Natalia Joseph, forward Juelle Love (playing soccer at Pitt).
Outlook: Carroll said, “Our team’s biggest strength is we have a lot of returning key players. We are using last season as motivation to continue to get better and build our program. As always, our biggest challenge is to keep everyone healthy to last all season long. I am looking forward to this season.”
Villa Maria Academy
Head coach: Gary Christopher, 12th year.
Last year’s record: 13-7 overall, 7-5 AACA.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Christina DiGuilio, junior midfielder Sarah Goldblum, senior midfielder Sydney Reid, senior striker Ryan O’Rourke.
Others to watch: senior midfielder Annie McNally, junior striker Ashley Reilley, junior defender Sophie Jungkurth.
Lost to graduation: Marissa DiGenova (Temple), Tori Kent (American), Morgan Monteith (RIT), Belle Colaeizza (Holy Cross), Audrey Fantazzia (UMass).
Outlook: Christopher said, “Since we lost some very talented players to graduation, we will be young and inexperienced. However, our returning players are also very skilled and talented.”