The 2019 girls’ soccer captains for the SCH Blue Devils are (from left) JoJo McShane, Maddie Niebish and Alysa Akins. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In 2018, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s girls’ soccer team finished in the middle of the Inter-Ac League with a young team, one that included four eighth-graders on the varsity roster. With a new influx of freshmen to join those four as ninth graders this season, the Blue Devils will still be a youthful franchise, with each of the higher grades contributing four or five players.

SCH graduated four members of last year’s squad, including a goalie who’d played with the varsity team since her freshman year, Sena Houessou-Adin. However, junior keeper Julia Wilbekaitis is not untested, having split halves in the cage with her older mentor as a freshman and sophomore. This year, she has an understudy of her own in freshman goalie Ellie Stratz. Stratz is a new student at Springside Chestnut Hill this year.

JoJo McShane, another junior, is a team captain this season along with seniors Alysa Akins and Maddie Niebish. The skillful Niebish should play more of her traditional role of forward this season, after being moved back toward the defensive end in 2018 due to a teammate’s injury.

The other juniors and seniors are all veteran players. Dakota Carter, Meghan McNesby and Abbie Rorke are the 12th graders, and Kylie Hughes and Norwood-Fontbonne Academy grad Esther Lamb are the juniors.

Back as sophomores this season with a year of varsity experience are Ava DeLisle, Maya McDermott and Lauren Sullivan. Their classmate, Olivia Myers, started for SCH as an eighth grader in 2017, and now is back in action after being sidelined due to injury last fall. Joining the soccer sophomore class is Kacie Frith, a new arrival from Hawaii.

The young members of the 2018 varsity team who are now freshmen are Abby Fitzmaurice, Lisa McIntyre, Bella Torres and Mary Trudeau. Their classmates, Bella Brown and Brigid McDonald, have moved up from last year’s undefeated SCH middle school varsity team.

Freshmen who are new to the school, in addition to Stratz, are Sabrina Beniquez, Julia Thompson and a Norwood graduate, Maia Mocharnuk.

Maria Kosmin returns for her fourth season as head coach of the Blue Devils, and joining her as an assistant is Ylber Mezani, who was a few years ahead of her as a player at Arcadia University. Last fall, Mezani helped out former SCH assistant Tom DeGeorge, Kosmin’s brother. DeGeorge spent two seasons on the Blue Devils’ staff, then took over the top job at Archbishop Wood High School last season.