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Main Line girls’ soccer teams looking strong again

The Main Line high school girls’ soccer scene this fall is packed with teams coming off strong 2017 campaigns, including league co-champion Conestoga, Lower Merion, Harriton and Haverford in the Central League; Baldwin School and Episcopal Academy in the Inter-Ac; Shipley and Friends’ Central in the Friends’ Schools League; and Tri County League champion Barrack Hebrew Academy.
Here’s a beginning-of-the-season look at the Main Line high school girls’ soccer squads as they open the 2018 fall season:

Agnes Irwin

Head coach: Mike Welsh, fourth year.

Last year’s record: 7-11-2 overall, 2-10 Inter-Ac.

Key returnees: junior goalie Amelia Leyden, senior defender Grace Bartosh and junior forward Natalie Pansini.

Others to watch: junior defender Eve Frankel, sophomore defender Cami Micheletti, junior defender Julianne Carey, sophomore defender Brooke Haabestad, sophomore midfielder Katie Fitzpatrick, sophomore midfielder Liza Richardson and freshman midfielder Belle Fusco.

Outlook: Welsh said, “We are a very young team, with only one senior who started last year, and we hope to get stronger as the season progresses; a big key to success will be how quickly our new players settle and how they handle playing against older girls.”

Archbishop Carroll
Head coach: Tom Quintois, first year.
Last year’s record: 5-5-1 Catholic League.
Key returnees: senior forward Paige Mastripolito, senior defender Madison Henry, senior midfielder Lexie Hagan, sophomore defender Kayla DeMola, junior midfielder Isabel Grube, junior midfielder Kelliann Matey.
Others to watch: sophomore goalie Nicollette Cashin, freshman midfielder Regan Duzy, freshman midfielder Olivia Hoffman, senior defender Liza Dellaratta, senior defender Molly DiCarlo, senior midfielder Amber Germer, senior defender Grace Grube, sophomore goalie Jasmine Vega, senior defender Shannon Dixon.
Outlook: Quintois, a former coach at Souderton High and Ursinus College, said, “Our girls will play very hard, and will play for each other. We look forward to the challenge of playing in a very tough Catholic League.”

Baldwin School
Head coach: Adrian Cox, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 13-5-2 overall, 8-3-1 Inter-Ac (second place)
Key returnees: senior goalkeeper Simi Bleznak, senior defender Lauren Bracken, senior midfielder Celia Page, senior midfielder Natalie Sgro, senior forward Gia Vicari, junior midfielder Alex Loomis, sophomore defender Taylor Levinson.
Others to watch: senior midfielder Relly Ladner, senior defender Juliet Paiva, senior midfielder Lexi Phelan.
Team’s strengths: Cox said, “We have a highly experienced and talented group of players, returning seven starters who have significant varsity experience. Team spirit, leadership and unity is at an all-time high. We have a dynamic and explosive offense as well as a smart and fit midfield. The goalkeeping and defense is highly disciplined, aggressive and organized.”
Outlook: “Our biggest key to success will be team defending,” said Cox. “The program lost three key defenders to graduation and there is a lot of competition for those starting positions. The offense will generate a lot of scoring opportunities and can put the ball in the net. The midfield is strong at keeping possession and playing quickly. The biggest challenge will be putting together a new defensive group. The program has a lot of skilled newcomers and it will be interesting to see which players emerge and can handle the physical and mental challenges of a varsity season in the competitive Inter-Ac League.”

Barrack Hebrew Academy

Head coach: Keith Bradburd,  second year. 

Last year’s record: 13-2-1 (Tri County League champion). 

Key returnees: sophomore midfielder Lexie Schacter, sophomore forward/midfielder Izzy Jacobson, freshman forward Jessie Singer, freshman forward Dana Fegler.

Others to watch: senior defender Yasi Stein, senior midfielder Shira Perloff, senior midfielder Juliet Hirsch. “All of them are coming back after spending last fall in Israel, and they all bring strength and leadership to the team.” 

Outlook: Bradburd said, “Our back four defenders will set the tone this season. The speed of our front runners will be key in scoring goals. Lexie Schacter is a versatile player who can score goals as well as defend, and is a strong physical player. Izzy Jacobson has a high level of technical ability and can score goals from all over. Jessie Singer can always find the net, has good field vision, and can score with both feet. Dana Fegler is a strong player with the ball at her feet, and very determined when going to goal. Staying healthy will be our key to success as well as integrating the seniors who will be returning this year after spending last season in Israel. Our biggest challenge will be protecting a very young, but very athletic goalkeeper.” 

Head coach; Ben Wilson, third year.
Last year’s record: 13-3-3 overall, 10-1 Central League (co-champions)
Key returnees: junior forward Caitlin Donovan, senior winger Emily Wertz, senior center back Jordan Roe, junior outside back Calista Courtney.
Others to watch: sophomore midfielder Lily Weiss, sophomore midfielder Sophie Koziol, sophomore center back Reese Henderson, senior outside back Sydney Sloan, senior forward Nia Scott.
Team’s strengths: Wilson said, “Our strengths are speed, experience, and relentlessness. Led by four-year varsity players Jordan Roe and Emily Wertz, we have a great balance of veteran experience and younger talent.”
Outlook: Three of the four members of last year’s back line return after graduating All-American, Hannah Morgan (Providence). The team’s leading goal scorers from the last three years, Caitlin Donovan, Nia Scott, and Emily Wertz, all return as well. Conestoga will also be adding in two sophomore, Sophie Koziol, and Lily Weiss, into the center of midfield who return to Conestoga after playing at the developmental academy level last year. Wilson said, “With such a strong group of players, and with having underachieved in the playoffs the last two years, this group is hungry to make a stronger push in the postseason this year. The key to success will be getting even higher goal production from a number of players, and the biggest challenge will be building chemistry between the returners and new players. There seems to be a new focus and competitiveness this year that should carry the team a long way.”

Episcopal Academy
Head coach: Andy Fraggos, third year.
Last year’s record: 17-4 overall, 10-2 InterAc.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Anna Salvucci (South Carolina soccer commit), senior defender Maddie Loughead (University of Richmond soccer commit), senior forward Olivia Dirks (Penn State lacrosse commit), junior forward Lauren Cunningham, junior midfielder Raina Kuzemka, junior defender Laila Payton (Old Dominion soccer commit), junior defender Devon Whitaker (University of Virginia lacrosse commit), junior midfielder Ali McHugh.
Others to watch: sophomore goalie Allie Bush, sophomore defender Ally Wilchusky, sophomore forward Hailee Moran, sophomore midfielder Madison Vetterlein.
Team’s biggest strengths: EA returns eight starters from last year including center backs Laila Payton and Maddie Loughead, which will provide for a strong back line in front of goalkeeper Allie Bush. Returning this year is their entire 2017 attacking line of Anna Salvucci (eight goals, 12 assists), Olivia Dirks (16 goals, eight assists), Raina Kuzemka (11 goals, eight assists), and Lauren Cunningham (eight goals, 10 assists). EA returning players accounted for 48 of the 54 goals scored in the 2017 season.
Outlook: EA has a pre-season ranking of No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 13 in the United States on EA also boasts a challenging non-conference schedule that includes McDonough School (Md.), Conestoga and Pennington School (N.J.). McDonough and Pennington enter their seasons ranked No. 6 and No. 8 in the nation. Fraggos said, “Aside from a grueling schedule, we learned from last year that remaining healthy will be our biggest challenge.”

Friends’ Central
Head coach: Luke Nowell, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 7-7-1 overall, 4-2-1 Friends’ School League.
Key returnees: senior center mid Phebe Guenther, junior forward/wing Izzy MacFarlane.
Other to watch: junior center back Caroline Blackman, freshman midfielder/forward Jordyn Paszamant.
Team strengths: According to Nowell, the Phoenix’s strengths are youth, speed and technical ability.
Outlook: Nowell said, “With only one returning senior to the roster we will be calling on a lot of younger players to step up and play big minutes. These players will need to mesh quickly for us to find success playing a rigorous non-league schedule. While this is a daunting task, it is also exciting for the future of the program, as the vast majority of our roster will have plenty of time to grow and learn a new system together.”

Head coach: Jeff Rhodes, ninth year.
Last year’s record: 10-7-1 overall, 6-5 Central League.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Sophia Edelblut-Franz, senior defender Katie Grogan, senior forward Sydney Kobak, senior midfielder Gabriela Mazzoni, senior defender Allison Schwab, senior defender Reilly Short, senior defender Emily Stewart.
Others to watch: junior midfielder Grace Honeyman, junior midfielder Taylor Shinal.
Team’s strengths: Rhodes said, “We have an experienced core group of returners that will set the tone for us this year.”
Outlook: “We are looking to be competitive within the Central League,” said Rhodes. “Staying healthy will be critical in order to have a solid season.”

Haverford High
Head coach: Jeff Jackson, first year.
Last year’s record: 12-4-3 overall, 7-3-1 Central League.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Niamh Boyle, senior defender Rebekah Cunningham, senior goalie Alison Durfee, senior midfielder Lauren Hempel, senior defender Amelia Legato, senior midfielder Anna Mefford, senior midfielder Annalena O’Reilly, senior defender Britt Riegler, senior forward/wing Bridge Weidenmiller.
Others to watch: junior midfielder Devin Snell, junior forward/wing Maya LeBlanc, junior midfielder Alyssa Hayes.
Outlook: Jackson said, “We have strong players at all positions and a bench that will help contribute as well. The togetherness and positive attitude of this squad is something that will prove important throughout the grueling season. We are looking to continue the excellent tradition of girls soccer at Haverford. We expect to playing more than our scheduled 18 games, but we know that we have a challenging schedule and will be tested every time out.”

Lower Merion
Head coach: Kevin Ries, 17th year.
Last year’s record: 11-6 overall, 7-4 Central League.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Isabelle Kuszyk, senior midfielder Bella Peterson, senior forward Lilly Elman, junior defender Teresa Cato, junior forward Aviva Kosto, sophomore defender Ellie Ward, sophomore midfielder Maya Masotti.
Others to watch: sophomore goalie Bridget McCann, freshman defender Roberta Moger.
Team’s strengths: Ries said, “This season we have an experienced midfield that can control the play and help transition the ball from our backline to our forwards. We also have many returning defenders who either started, or saw significant time, for the varsity last season.”
Outlook: “We have a strong, talented and experienced group that is determined to build off of last year’s success,” said Ries. “With only three seniors, we will need the younger players to quickly fill new roles and be ready to play in the competitive Central League.”

Merion Mercy Academy
Head coach: Brett McGovern, first year.
Last year’s record: 4-10-2.
Key returnees: senior midfielder Teresa Hegarty, senior defender Michelle Giannini, junior defender Liz Norton.
Others to watch: senior defender Victoria Steinmetz, junior midfielder Caitlin Spillane.
Outlook: McGovern said, “This year’s team has a willingness to learn and develop individually and as a team. One challenge we will have is to face and learn from adversity. We are eager to see what the team brings to the field this season.”

Head coach: Jake Solderitsch, third year.
Last year’s record: 7-9-2 overall, 4-7 Central League.
Key returnees: senior defender Jenna Spray, senior midfielder Audrey Rosenblum, junior forward Sophia Muetterties, junior defender Missy Massimino.
Others to watch: senior midfielder Brooksey Perrin-Hee, junior forward Keara Seasholtz, senior goalie Anna Gurian.
Team’s strengths: Solderitsch said, “Our biggest strengths are utilizing our speed on the flanks; building attack-minded possession through midfield; consistent defensive awareness and coverage.”
Outlook: “Our team consists of a solid mix of established upperclassmen and promising younger players,” said Solderitsch. “We will look to establish a balanced attack through the midfield and forwards while maintaining a steady defensive shape and mindset. Our challenge will be to consistently create dangerous chances and finish in our opponents’ end.”

Head coach: Dakota Carroll, fifth year.
Last year’s record: 9-6-2 overall, 6-3-1 Friends Schools League, advanced to FSL championship final.
Key returnees: senior goalie Grace Gordon, senior defender Elizabeth Talluto, senior defender Elie Shapiro, junior center mid/forward Liv Hamilton, junior center mid Hannah Brainsky, junior center back Sarah Cotteta, junior defender Lexi Wojtelwicz, sophomore defender/midfielder Georgia Paynter, sophomore center mid Katie Bergen, sophomore goalie Abby Aughe, freshman midfielder Ava Horowitz.
Others to watch: sophomore center mid/defender Kahlia Bailey, sophomore midfielder/forward Mackenzie Medina.
Team’s strengths: Carroll said, “Our team is a bit more athletic than in the past few years. We are super technical and able to keep the ball, we also have a bit more pace than in years before. I am very excited to see everything come together as the season progresses.
Outlook: “Our team’s key to success will be if we can continue to grow as a team and fully commit to our style of play,” said Carroll. “It will take some time getting used to playing with one another, but the girls are off to a great start. The biggest challenge, as always, will be keeping everyone healthy through the whole season.”

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