Seniors Emily McNesby (left) and Grace Rorke are the captains for SCH girls’ soccer this season. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Although seven members of its 2016 girls’ varsity soccer squad graduated, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy actually has most of the key players returning from last year’s team, a franchise which caught fire at the end of the season and finished as the runner-up in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools tournament.

The two senior co-captains for the 2017 Blue Devils will both be going on to play college ball; scoring ace Emily McNesby will sign with the University of Maryland, and imposing back Grace Rorke is headed to Dartmouth.

They are part of another seven-member senior class on the team. All back from 2016 are Bridget Hennessy, Aliyah Jefferies, Lucy Lamb and Destiny Rogers. Returning to the field this fall is their classmate Marissa Brown, a former starter who was sidelined by a knee injury for the 2016 campaign.

Anchoring the defense is veteran junior goalie Sena Houessou-Adin, and her back-up is a sought-after ninth-grade keeper who is new to the school, Julia Wilbekaitis. Houessou-Adin’s fellow juniors are Mo’ne Davis, Nayah Moore and Kylie Quinn.

While there has been some attrition from last year’s very large group of freshman, the team has been left with a talented sophomore class made up of Alysa Akins, Morgan Brown, Dakota Carter, Madi Niebish and the younger sisters of the two senior captains, Meghan McNesby and Abbie Rorke.

Wilbekaitis has company as a new SCH ninth grader in the persons of Esther Lamb and JoJo McShane, while a promising eighth-grade arrival, Olivia Myer, will also be on the varsity squad.

Following a very impressive debut in 2016, Maria Kosmin returns as the Blue Devils’ head coach, and once again she’ll be assisted by her brother, Tom. New to the staff is Matthew Sturdivant. He graduated from Delaware’s Caravel Academy and then played goalie for Lynchburg College, where he subsequently served as an assistant coach for the women’s soccer team.