LYNNFIELD — When the Lynnfield girls soccer team opens the 2018 season next Wednesday against Cape Ann League archrival North Reading, there will be plenty of new faces on the pitch.
The Pioneers lost 14 to graduation (including 8 starters), the most ever on a Mark Vermont-coached team).
“That’s not too many, is it,” joked Vermont, now in his 18th season at the helm at Lynnfield. “We are very young, but we do have some players with significant varsity experience so the challenge, being so young, will be to play consistent soccer. It’s still too early to see who will play whereas we lost some very strong players, so it will be a challenge.”
That’s putting it mildly.
Gone are the likes of Pioneer captains Lizzie Shaievitz, the Cape Ann League Kinney Division Most Valuable Player and Eastern Mass Division 3 Player of the Year along with CAL First Team All-Star Kate Mitchell and CAL Second Team honorees Sydney Santosuosso and Hannah Filipe along with 2-year starting goaltender Mackenzie O’Neill.
Last year, the Pioneers finished the regular season 12-3-3 and were the No. 4 seed in the Division 3 North state tournament where they were eliminated in the quarterfinals in a 1-0 overtime loss to Newburyport.
With a whole new slate of players competing for playing time and starting positions, everything’s up for grabs.
Leading the way for the Pioneers this season are tri-captains Emma Montanile, a senior, and juniors Tori Morelli and Liz Sykes. Montanile and Morelli have starting experience at midfield, while Sykes is the only starting returner in the backfield.
“They are all excellent players and bring good energy to the team,” said Vermont. “They are all excited to get going and see what we can accomplish this season.”
Junior Anna-Maria Ferrante also saw action as a starter in the midfield.
Other returners with varsity experience are junior midfielder/forward Abby Lucich, a spot starter, and junior Amberly McCarter, who is the only goalkeeper on the roster.
“Liz, Anna and Abby were pulled up midway or late in their freshman seasons and they came up and contributed right away,” said Vermont. “They have had the benefit of being with some pretty strong teams, so that will be a big help.”
The good news for Lynnfield this year is that several promising players who were called up late last season for the tournament are back for another season. That group includes sophomore twin sisters Ashley (forward) and Lauren Mitchell (defense), and sophomores Megan Nevils, (defense), Lauren Bracconier (defense) and Emily Goguen (forward).
Junior newcomers include defender Molly Ozanian and outside midfielders Emma Ricciardi and Emma Nardone.
Sophomore newcomers include midfielder Julia Colucci, Aidan Briggs, an outside midfielder, and defender Erin Sharkey.
Freshman forward Audrey Parisi also made the varsity cut.
“It’s too early to identify the strengths of the team, but we have some good kids and are very young, but highly motivated with a very high skill level,” said Vermont. “We also have juniors who have played together in the past, and the same with the sophomore group, so the kids have a lot of familiarity with each other and I am hoping that translates into good chemistry.”