by Tom Utescher
This year a number of girls’ soccer squads in the area can boast young players who are already fit for varsity duty, and two neighboring teams who scrimmaged last Friday are definitely part of the youth movement.
Germantown Friends and Penn Charter each lost half-dozen players from their 2010 rosters. All the vacancies for the PC Quakers occurred through graduation, while the GFS Tigers graduated four booters, then had one transfer out and another switch sports. That’s made the influx of youthful talent especially welcome at the two schools.
“I feel very good about a couple of things,” remarked GFS coach Sam McIlvain, whose club outpointed PC, 2-1. “We have some very strong freshmen who are ready to play, and we’re deeper than we’ve ever been. When we make substitutions, there’s continuity out there, not a letdown.”
After junior Kelly Kubach gave host PC a 1-0 lead in Friday’s scrimmage, it was a ninth-grader, Bridget Anderson, who tied the score for the Tigers, setting the stage for the deciding goal by her senior teammate, Iris Williamson.
The cadre of freshman at Germantown also includes Grayson Melby (a rising star in squash), Tori Clarke, Sophia Linguiti, Greta Meyer, and Taryn Millbrooke.
The Tigers will benefit from strong senior leadership, as well. Clarke’s older sister, Alex, is a starter at center back and a team co-captain, along with Williamson. Williamson, who made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Penn earlier this year, is positioned at midfield and is a force to be reckoned with all over the soccer pitch.
The other seniors are Eve Maxson and Samantha Clark and the juniors are Sophie Mercuris and Katherine Walden, all varsity veterans. The sophomore class includes the starting goalie, Caroline Myran, as well as Rachel Allison, Schuyler Nissen, Michaela Reitano, and Claire Schmidt. If the Tigers should need a back-up in goal, both Alex Clarke and Williamson have played the position before.
“The seniors, and the captains in particular, have helped everyone buy into a more focused and aggressive style of play,” McIlvain said. “We’re fairly fit and we’re pretty tough mentally. These girls want to compete and they’ve set high standards for themselves.”
Penn Charter coach Eddie Mensah has players as young as eighth grade making contributions on the field. In fact these two middle schoolers, midfielder Jlon Flippens and defender Dominique DeMarco, saw as much action as almost any senior last Friday. Freshmen Abby Evans, Eliza Jacobs, and Maddie Mahoney have also made the varsity squad.
Mensah noted that a commitment to playing club soccer at a high level makes the youngsters ready to contribute on a varsity team.
“They come in knowing the fundamentals, so we can spend our time learning tactics and strategy instead of just teaching them the basic skills,” he said.
Kelly Kubach is a tri-captain along with seniors Sarah Butler and Phoebe Ingersoll, and the other member of the small senior class is Cat Pierce. Butler is the Quakers’ starting goalie, but junior Rachael Garnick often splits time with her, and Mensah says he has two promising keepers on the JV squad. Emma Ebert, Julia Mammone, and Lital Netter-Sweet round out the junior class on the varsity roster.
Among the seven sophomores are Kubach’s sister, Kristina, and a very talented midfielder, Lauren Dimes, who was already a major force for the Quakers as a freshman. Another tenth-grader held in high regard is Steph Soroka, who is just coming back off of an injury and is expected to start at sweeper for the second year in a row. The solid sophomore group also includes forward Julia Casasanto, midfielder Lauren Fleming, and defender Leigh Steinberg.
Mensah feels that this talented ensemble will help PC improve upon an uncharacteristically low sixth-place finish in the Girls Inter-Ac League in 2010. Episcopal Academy is the defending champ and Charter’s familiar foe Germantown Academy is on the rise, and Mensah is always wary of the Academy of Notre Dame, as well.
GFS will face tough opponents in the two 2010 Friends Schools League finalists, champion Shipley and runner up George School. Both have most of their major talent returning, and McIlvain said that improvements in the programs at Friends Select, Westtown, and Abington Friends will make for an interesting chase for the 2011 title in the FSL.