by Tom Utescher
A large number of athletes who were mainstays of the Germantown Friends School girls soccer program won’t be wearing Tiger orange this fall; no fewer than 10 players from the 2014 roster have graduated.
With this experienced group last fall, GFS was able to break through to win its first Friends Schools League championship after finishing as runner-up to archrival Friends Central in each of the three previous seasons.
Back for their second season are head coach Jeremy Hurdle and assistant Samantha Swerdloff, a former semi-pro and Division I college player. Longtime assistant coach Rachel Bradburd, a member of the school faculty, is also back on the sidelines, and a new addition this year is Merisa Rudy. Rudy played soccer at Little Flower Catholic High School, where she was a classmate and teammate of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s new assistant coach, Erin Blaney.
The co-captains of the 2015 Tigers are senior Lizzie Becker and junior Hannah Hanson, who have both been varsity performers since they were freshmen. Becker, an all-league center midfielder, is the only senior who has returned from the 2014 squad, but two of her classmates have joined her this fall. Emily Fichandler, who played soccer as a freshman, has returned to the pitch after a two-year hiatus, and Elizabeth Wallace, a longstanding member of the school squash team, has also turned out.
There is also a relatively small junior class, with center back Hanson accompanied by Lilly Dupuis and Lila Sternberg-Sher.
Due to the large turnover in personnel from last year to this season, Coach Hurdle is still fine-tuning the breakdown of varsity and JV athletes, and all of the candidates are getting a good look in the pre-season sessions.
Because last year’s team built up comfortable leads in some of their games, a number of freshmen were able to see a good deal of playing time, with a few earning starting roles.
Current sophomore Portia McKoy is a speedy scoring threat, and her twin sister Teasha is the primary goalie for the Tigers this fall.
Classmates Riley Knowles and Celia Meyer each have older sisters who were senior starters last season, and the other sophomores in the mix are Corin Grady, Maya Keren, Olivia Trotto and Lia Weil.
Freshman Sophy Henisz is a new student at the school who has made an impression in the pre-season, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s naturally a left-footer. Fellow ninth-grader Priyanka Jain has come over to GFS from Penn Charter, and freshmen Gigi Guida and Jane MacRae are also part of the upper school squad.