Starting out strong, the girls varsity soccer program took the field on Thursday, Sept. 14, and finished the game with an impressive 4-0 victory over Wilbraham and Monson School. This demanding win brought excitement for the season ahead.
The team is led by their eight seniors and has also welcomed three Middle Schoolers to the roster, who have already made an impact. In the team’s first victory, seventh-grade winger Hannah Sams found the back of the net twice, while freshman striker Maliyah Douglas also scored twice.
Recently the girls squared off against Miss Porters, a team notorious for always having a number of college commits on the field. Traveling just down the road, the team faced a tough 3-0 loss, with only a handful of shots on net.
Since then, the girls captured their first win at home on the Outlook fields. Highlighted again by the heroics of Sams scoring twice along with a goal from senior striker Ashley Neikrie, this was the perfect recipe for a 3-0 win over Williston Northampton. The team kept rolling with a big home victory against Canterbury School, 6-1. The team looked to follow this up with another win under the lights against Cheshire Academy. It was a competitive matchup. The Wyverns made a furious comeback in the second half to tie the game, 2-2. Cheshire Academy was able to pull away and the Wyverns fell, 2-3.
Head Coach Sal Penta joins this squad for his second season, in his 15th season of coaching. Coach Penta has been training with the team since late August, emphasizing endurance and individual skill work. Off the field, setting goals and sticking to them is what he finds can give a team an edge when facing off against rival opponents.
“Personal and team goals are something that the girls look at every single day,” Coach Penta said. “I find it very important when talking to a player and they tell me, ‘I need to get better on offense or defense,’ being very specific is what really defines who you are and how you play on the field,” he said. Coach Penta cannot lead the girls by himself; along with the eight seniors who fill their own leadership roles, he is joined by Assistant Coach Tracy Deeter and Assistant Coach Judy Bailey.
Last season, the girls fell to a 6-9-3 record, beating New England’s best, Loomis Chaffee 1-0, but also losing games to fellow Founder’s League competitors like Westminster and Choate Rosemary Hall, 7-1, and 4-0, respectively.
Despite having a sub .500 record, Coach Penta measured the girls’ success in the growth that they were able to achieve overall because he knew that he would have most of the same team for this year.
Senior midfielder Co-captain Georgia Louis is easing her way into her role as a leader this season. Coming back for her fourth and final season as a member of the varsity team she wants to make this one count, as well as leave good lessons for the young team. “As a senior, I just want to be a good role model for them, bring positive energy, and hopefully they follow that when they’re seniors,” Louis said. “Leading them is important because I want to show them how to work hard, but have fun.”
Senior defender Ella Sokale has spent the last two seasons leading the team in minutes played. Unfortunately, Sokale suffered a season-ending patella injury early this season but is looking forward to leading the team off the field. Sokale who has recently committed to playing at the collegiate level at Johnson and Wales University wants the younger players to always keep their goals in mind because they, too, could play at the highest level with hard work and persistence. “In practice, I try to do a lot of technique work and incorporate the Middle Schooler players and younger players,” Sokale said.
Looking ahead, the girls will face tough competition against the Suffield Academy Tigers, a team they have not beaten in six years. There is still over a month left in the soccer season, and the girls have plenty of games left to prove it to their opponents. Their next home match will take place on Hewett Day on Saturday, Oct. 21, against Westminster.