Tonawanda News — With the sting of last season’s sectional semifinal loss still fresh in the minds of the Tonawanda girl’s soccer team, the Lady Warriors went out early this season and made a statement: a 10-0 win over the same Eden team that eliminated them a year ago.
“That was a game we were pumped up for. I don’t know if we are that good, but we looked great,” said THS coach Julie Johnson. “It was kind of our coming out game. We were working together well, and we knew where each other was going to be.”
The Lady Warriors have started out the season 2-2, and Johnson said the team is still working out the kinks with a few new faces that have entered the fold. But Tonawanda has a ton of experience, led by last year’s leading scorer and News’ girl’s soccer Player of the Year Kalyn Compeau.
Johnson said Compeau is even better this year and has big goals for her senior season.
“We’re expecting great things out of Kalyn this year,” Johnson said. “It’s what I’ve been waiting for from her. You knew it was in there, but she was very shy and a selfless player before, which wasn’t a bad thing, but sometimes we just need her to make things happen. She had the talent but she felt selfish keeping the ball. She is leading by example and she has a lot of talent around her this year to help.”
Three underclassmen have already made an impact this season, and Johnson has been thrilled with their approach and willingness to learn. Hope Balling, Grace Stranahan and Sydney Kowsky join a group of seven seniors, which includes Caylie Stuart, Ashley Ostrowski, Alanna Herne, Kristine Carsen, Megan Tuskes and Jordan Johnson to make up a Tonawanda squad with a ton of potential.
“We’re very optimistic about this season. The core group has really shown a great leadership role all together,” Johnson said.
Ostrowski is the unsung hero for the Lady Warriors. Johnson called her one of the team’s toughest players who doesn’t show up on the score sheet very often, but is somebody who is always giving maximum effort on the pitch.
In net, Herne has really come into her own, Johnson said. Every year she has shown improvement and this year she’s really starting to put everything together in net.
“Alanna is phenomenal,” Johnson said. “She is naturally athletic and as a goalie she knows positioning and she is really aggressive in net. She’s becoming more vocal as a goalie and she’s pumped for the season. I think she is one of the best goalies in our league to be honest.”
After a tough loss to North Tonawanda in their last game, the Lady Warriors are now looking toward league play to make their mark in 2013.
“We want to put Tonawanda on the map for girls soccer. We really want to keep our momentum going so that people know us and that’s when people are afraid to play you,” Johnson said. “That’s the attitude we’re starting to build in our program.”
— Matt Parrino
“Last year we didn’t finish where we wanted to finish.”
The quote from 15-year North Tonawanda coach Steve Sabo is a loaded one, but the coach knew there was a simple solution following a disappointing 7-0 loss to Iroquois in the 2012 Sectionals.
Sabo’s team wasn’t out-classed in the game, just out-worked and “mentally sloppy.” That’s already changed for 2013.
“We worked on preparing more before games as a team,” Sabo said. “It’s a very close-knit group of girls. They all have each other’s back and they know if one person is not ready to play there’s someone ready to take their place.”
Those spots all demand finishers. The Lady Jacks have a well-balanced scoring attack with quick-strike capability, already scoring goals in the first minute of two matches.
“They are right up there with my teams from 2006-07 when we went to back-to-back sectional finals. We had so many weapons that we could use,” Sabo said. “The scoring was spread around and we were putting in 90 goals per season. Last year it took us to the midpoint of the season to have 13 goals.”
NT is led by three senior captains with a total of 14 years of varsity experience: Cassidy Powers (5), Karley Herberger (4) and Nicole Mallone (5). The trio has helped the team to score 13 goals through three matches. That’s as many as they notched in the first half of 2012.
“It’s just running our system and wherever the ball ends up, that’s the girl who will bury the ball in the back of the net,” Sabo said.
The attack is led by a big forward in Mallone, but the goals are coming from everywhere.
“Kelly Nichols got both of our goals on Grand Island,” Sabo said. “Sam Haynes, one of our ninth graders, had a hat trick against Ken East and this is my first year having a seventh grader (Olivia Hooley) play regular season varsity with us, getting significant playing time, and she scored against Ken East.”
— Nick Mendola
It’s the same message being delivered by a familiar face.
As the 2013 edition of the Kenmore West Lady Blue Devils soccer team prepares for the new season they will have an old friend guiding the way.
Longtime girls JV coach Clarence Boatman has taken over the varsity program after coach Jen Gilham stepped down in April for family reasons.
Having coached every player during their JV career Boatman said he feels there was an instant connection from day one, and they haven’t had to go through a process of everyone getting to know each other.
“We had a lot of girls play a lot of summer ball all year round. They’re working very hard,” said Boatman. “We’ve got the basic abilities. We’ve got talent. It’s just a matter of coming together as a team.”
Leading the way for the Lady Blue Devils will be tri-captains Lauren Lepovich (junior), and seniors Danielle Hoare and goal keeper Hannah Post.
While the Blue Devils lost a solid team leader in Marylouise Lindner, Boatman feels Hoare, Lepovich and Post without question have the qualities to take over and set the right tone.
Freshman Grace Ferguson returns and should provide offensive punch up top, and she and Lepovice will form a speedy tandem that will give opposing defenders fits. Caitlyn Burke is another key returnee the Blue Devils are hoping can get healthy.
While the talent is there perhaps the best weapon the Blue Devils have going for them is unity. Everyone is on the same page and has that all-important team-first mentality.
“We’re all getting along,” said Lepovich. “As we’re coming together as a team we’re starting to really connect so early.”
Destiny Catania, Katie Proy and Bayley Balch are among the faces hoping to make an impact this season.
— Dave Ricci
If the core can live up to expectations and the supporting cast can carry its own weight, there is no reason why the Kenmore East girls soccer team can’t compete in the Niagara Frontier League.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs are senior co-captains Erin O’Brien and Megan Talmon. Both have the blend of talent and leadership that coaches look for in their captains.
O’Brien will be especially key. Missing last season due to a knee injury, she is back and ready to make her senior year a memorable one.
“We really missed Erin on the field last year and we’re looking forward to having her back getting in games and seeing her do great things,” said Kenmore East coach Chris Robey. “Not only as a leader but with her ball skills and hopefully putting the ball in the net.”
Junior Rose Mueller returns between the pipes and will give the Bulldogs a fighting chance everyday. Junior Hannah Coates and Lexie Albano also return.
Twins Rachel and Michelle Fiore, juniors, bring a combination of speed and a firey attitude that should inspire the rest of the team to bring their best until the final whistle.
“I think last year was definitely a building season for us,” said Megan Talmon. “Everybody knew we were losing just one person and we knew that we were having a strong core coming back this year.”
The Bulldogs had a rough go in the opening weekend of play as they fell to Sacred Heart and host Tonawanda during the Dan Durick Tournament. Both final scores were 3-0.
— Dave Ricci
The Lady Hawks said goodbye to one of their all-time great players in Leah McDonell at the end of last season after the two-sport O’Hara star became the first girls soccer player on record to score 100 career goals.
But Lady Hawks coach Stephanie Allaire said this year’s squad has a lot of talent and is hungry to compete.
Leah Coleman is back for her third season on varsity at goal keeper, and Allaire said the senior has stepped up as a leader.
“She is starting to be more vocal on the field, and communicating to her teammates what needs to be done in order for us to be successful,” Allaire said.
Senior captains Emily Neumeister and Candace Masich will also play large roles for the Lady Hawks this season. Neumeister is the starting sweeper and Allaire said she knows where to be at all times.
Masich scored a goal Wednesday night in the Hawks’ opening game — a 4-3 loss to Niagara Catholic — and Allaire said she expects her to score a bunch more this season
“She has cannon for a leg. She can rip shots from outside the 18 and they’re pretty accurate for the most part,” Allaire said. “I like her in that center to mid where she can take those shots and catch the keeper off guard.”
Sophomore Rachael Farmer transferred in from Grand Island and will play in the backfield with Neumeister, where Allaire said she has demonstrated strong chemistry.
“Rachael also plays hockey so she brings a toughness element to her game,” Allaire said. “She has wheels and is not afraid to take the ball all the way to the front in order to create an opportunity to score or take a shot for herself.”
Allaire also expects 10th grader Kelli O’Donnell and Gina Draksic to contribute this season. Both scored goals Wednesday night.
With the loss of McDonell, Allaire is hoping the entire team will step up to fill the void.
“We need everybody to work together — when they drop back on defense and when they push forward on offense. That’s what I’ve been telling them so far this year,” she said. “We need to play smart and be aware — get the ball to Candace so she can get that ball long, and it will help us the whole season if we slow down the game and play smart.”
— Matt Parrino
MOUNT ST. MARY
Not many programs with a history like Mount Saint Mary’s start a season with more new girls than veterans, but not many years see a 152-year-old private school close up shop.
When head coach Marisa Dauria opened camp for 2013, she had four new veteran, starting caliber players fresh into school. Three of those girls come from recently-closed Holy Angels Academy: goalkeeper Erin McCormick and defenders Danielle Jones and Mary Theresa Spears.
“We only had five or six returning players from last year,” Dauria said. “It’s pretty much like starting a brand new team. This is the best thing that could’ve happened for us. It wasn’t just two or three kids walking onto a team that was pretty much the same from last year.”
Forward and outside midfielder Ryan Merritt is also new, transferring to the squad from Southern tier powerhouse Holland. Despite the turnover, Dauria says the mood’s been great on the Thunder field.
“It hasn’t been a big thing,” she said. “The girls get along great. We said from Day One. We all want to beat Nardin. We all want to beat Sacred Heart.”
It helps to have strong leadership, which Dauria has in captains Carolyn Kennedy and Jessica Hart.
“Both have been on varsity since their freshman year,” Dauria said. “They are definitely two of our standout soccer players and they’ve both been our leaders, even in last year’s season as well.”
Rounding out the clean slate are two freshman: forward Paige Freer and midfielder McKenna O’Rourke. Dauria said the only thing that could hold them back would be their size.
“We don’t typically take freshman unless I know they are going to play,” Dauria said. “And these two freshmen, when they are healthy, are both starters.”
— Nick MendolaFind @tonanewssports and sports editor @MattParrino on Twitter for complete high school sports coverage.