After a team graduates 13 seniors, it's hard to look at the following season as anything but "rebuilding." But opponents should not take the 2023 SCH squad lightly.
After a high school sports team graduates 13 seniors, almost all of whom are going on to play in college, it's hard to look at the following season as anything but the classic "rebuilding" year.
In 2022, the girls' soccer team at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy won the Inter-Ac League championship for the second year in a row and also repeated as the Pa. Independent Schools tournament champion. The Blue Devils' large senior class departed with an overall career record of 60-3-4 and a mark 39-0-2 in league competition.
Yet even after this momentous exodus of talent, opponents should not be taking the 2023 SCH squad lightly. There is now an ingrained pattern of success within the program, and it's led by proven 8th-year head coach Maria Kosmin, who was picked to pilot the East Team in the 2022 High School All-American Game.
While there are only three seniors on the team, there are a number of solid juniors and sophomores, and the large incoming freshman class includes four girls who have already earned starting spots.
After opening the season last Thursday with a 3-1 victory over Philadephia Catholic League champion Archbishop Wood (coached by Kosmin's brother, Tom DeGeorge), the Blue Devils fought to a 0-0 with Summit Country Day School from Cincinnati. Summit is a nationally-prominent program that has won three Ohio state championships, and the day after playing at SCH they defeated Penn Charter, 3-0.
In addition to losing last year's large senior class, the Devils also saw assistant coach Namit Deshpande depart; he's the new head coach at another Inter-Ac School, Agnes Irwin. Joining the Springside Chestnut Hill staff is D.J. Kustra, a central Pennsylvania native who played soccer at Messiah University and is a certified athletic trainer.
The three senior captains for the 2023 franchise are Brynn Donohue, Alex Reilly, and Abby Udowenko. Udowenko will play soccer at Seton Hall, and Reilly will play lacrosse at the University of Virginia.
The three captains all started in the team's early games, along with junior goalie Gracyn Lee-Torchiana and her classmates Lida Goloveyko and Jolie Kaoma. Another starter, sophomore Jillian Major, is the sister of Madison Major, a member of last year's senior class who has gone on to play at Fairleigh-Dickinson University.
The starting line-up also featured four freshmen, Ryleigh Bakley, Cali Smith, Deus Stanislaus, and Ella Thomson. Bakley's sister Katie was a track athlete at Mount St. Joseph Academy, where she graduated last spring.
Coach Kosmin noted that two other ninth-graders, Alex de Beaulac and Isabella Simaku, could also contend for starting spots.
Rounding out the varsity roster are seasoned juniors Zarin DeVeaux and Kenna Quinn, sophomores Caitlin Bautista, Saoirse Glennon, and Isabella Harvey, and freshmen Ashley Hughes and Penny Rice.
SCH can expect a strong challenge in league play from Episcopal Academy, which last season lost two 1-0 games to the Blue Devils and tied them in a third contest. EA graduated an excellent goalie who has gone on to play at Ohio State, but overall their strongest class from 2022 will still only be juniors this fall.