Six starting seniors, including three 2012 first-team all-leaguers, will provide the leadership and experience to win matches and move into post-season play.
That’s what second-year varsity coach Paul Hopkins has in mind.
“I really like this year’s squad,” Hopkins said. “They have the team cohesiveness, experience and desire to win that will make us competitive in every match.”
He’s not predicting any easy victories, and he knows nobody “wins them all,” but Hopkins is confident the 18 varsity players want to improve on last year’s 8-9 won-loss record (6-2 in league). “Their experience gives the girls confidence, and I have confidence in this team,” he says.
The 41 varsity and junior varsity players are the biggest soccer turnout ever, said JV coach Emily Carrington, who, along with Sarah Ware, Kevin Cullen and Phil Mayer comprise an experienced staff of assistants for head coach Hopkins.
All-league first teamers Emma Brand, Emily Guard and Libby Snow are the nucleus of an athletic and versatile squad, but Hopkins insists all eleven starters, and their backups, contribute to team success.
“Spacing and communication are so important in soccer,” he says. “Every player on the field has to be in position and maintain proper spacing, and communicate constantly, to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.”
Defenders, mid-fielders and strikers, also called forwards, often play the entire match at one position, but Hopkins says he may make “strategic changes” to take advantage of particular match-ups or game circumstances. And he may play both zone and man-to-man defense, though he would switch back and forth only rarely, he says.
He and goalie coach Mayer also must choose among three good goalkeepers for the Sept. 14 home opener against Lynden. “It’s a good problem to have,” Hopkins says, “because goalkeeper is such an important position.”
Having an experienced team means there will be only one freshman on the varsity, Hopkins said, but he may promote a JV player or two during the season, partly because the JV team plays only six games, compared to 16 for the varsity squad.
Hopkins says he really enjoys coaching the team, and he knows that he, his coaches and his team really want to do well - and win.
“But it’s not just about winning,” he says, “It’s about playing as a team, about friendship and how to take a loss and how to handle a win.”