Monday, January 17, 2022

Sports

Valley Girls’ Soccer Starts Season Strong

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Senior captain midfielder Sophia Surber and the Valley Regional girls’ soccer team have put together a couple of wins to start the season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain midfielder Sophia Surber and the Valley Regional girls’ soccer team have put together a couple of wins to start the season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Senior captain midfielder Taryn Frazier and the Warriors earned a 3-0 road victory over Westbrook on Sept. 14. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain midfielder Taryn Frazier and the Warriors earned a 3-0 road victory over Westbrook on Sept. 14. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Senior captain defender Caroline Hutchinson and the Warriors have only allowed one goal so far this season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain defender Caroline Hutchinson and the Warriors have only allowed one goal so far this season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

The Valley Regional girls’ soccer team is out to prove themselves this year. After Valley Regional had to shut down all athletics programs near the end of the 2020 fall season, the Warriors missed out on a playoff push when the team was playing its best soccer all year. In 2021, Head Coach Lauren MacDonald’s squad is ready to show what could have been had it had the chance to compete in the postseason last year.

The Warriors are already off to a solid start so far this year. Valley notched 3-0 road victory over Westbrook on Sept. 14, and the Warriors’ record moved to 2-0 so far on the year. Coach MacDonald saw her team putting it all together against a Shoreline rival. The Warriors’ scoring took a bit to get going but eventually came alive, and the defense looked stout according to MacDonald. Junior goalie, Liz Allen had a relatively uneventful game in net as a result of that defense.

“During this game we were making all of the right runs building out from the backfield, and we had the momentum to go forward,” MacDonald said. “We had a hard time finding the back of the net during the first half until getting into a groove during the second. Liz Allen did not see much action on the back line, but she came out of the game with three saves.”

Junior Eileen Russell scored a goal for the Warriors in the win, and fellow junior Anna Benson also notched a goal. Senior captain Taryn Frazier also supplied a goal for Valley.

Frazier is one of three senior captains who have been providing the leadership that Coach MacDonald expected to see coming into this campaign. Those captains are Frazier, Caroline Hutchinson, and Sophia Surber.

“Caroline Hutchinson, Sophia Surber, and Taryn Frazier have done a tremendous job as captains,” MacDonald said. “Over the summer they organized many team outings, conditioning sessions, and kept the team excited and ready for the start of the season.”

The Warriors’ solid defense this season has been a concerted effort. In Valley’s backfield includes Hutchinson, junior Chloe Clark, senior Ellie Cost, senior Bitzy Klomp, senior Alexis Massey, and senior Erin Ward. Coach MacDonald has seen how each of her defenders bring something a little different to the table.

“We are putting an extra emphasis on defensive formation this year. The girls have already adapted to getting together as a team and utilizing our outside backs to get forward and involved in the action. Our back line the first two games has been very impressive. Over the summer they did a lot of defensive work with the summer league coach, and it is showing,” MacDonald said. “Caroline, Chloe, Ellie, Bitzy, Alexis, and Erin will all be utilized on the back line, and each of them provide a different skill set that allows our defense to work so well.”

The Warriors also have plenty of experience in front of the net with Allen in goal. MacDonald noted the ease with which Allen minds the net.

“Liz will find herself playing 80 minutes in each game this season,” said MacDonald. “She is a natural talent in the net, incredibly comfortable with the ball at her feet, and communicative with her teammates.”

On the offensive end of the field, the Warriors have a large pool of players with plenty of talent to spare. MacDonald expects to see Russell notching plenty of marks on the scorecard this year, and there is skill to spare to either side of her in junior Reagan Doyon, senior Jordan Harris, junior Grace Abderhalden, sophomore Emilee Surber, and senior Hannah Tejedor.

“Eileen Russell will be an offensive threat this year with her speed and tenacity,” MacDonald said. “Hannah Tejedor, Reagan Doyon, Jordan Harris, Grace Abderhalden, and Emilee Surber will be on the wings. They all have great technical skill and the ability to cross the ball into the box for a scoring chance.”

The midfield is the glue that holds both end of the pitch together, and the Warriors’ midfield will be a strength. Two of the Warriors’ three captains are in the midfield, and they anticipate the best play to make more often than not. Benson, Sophia Surber, Frazier, and junior Olivia Baldwin are just a few of the capable players patrolling the midfield.

“Sophia is the playmaker of the team. She is able to find gaps to get the ball to her teammates, open up, and switch the point of attack. She’s also really dangerous with her corner kicks and free kicks,” said MacDonald. “Taryn Frazier is a force to be reckoned with when the ball is at her feet. She has power and speed behind everything she does. Olivia Baldwin is the defensive glue to our central midfield. She plays an important role in maintaining and supporting our defensive line. Anna Benson will play a pivotal role in the attacking central midfield position and has already scored in both of our games.”

Coach MacDonald has been impressed by her team’s play this year, but she’s most proud of the camaraderie that the Warriors have fostered in the early part of the season.

“Our team’s biggest strength is respect for one another. We are a family who will get frustrated with one another, but we will always put our best foot forward to play as a team,” said MacDonald. “The girls genuinely enjoy being around one another and it shows during practice and in games.”

Coach MacDonald believes that her squad is playing with purpose this year. The Warriors have had great success in MacDonald’s tenure, but they have a renewed vigor for winning a Shoreline Conference championship.

“This season has definitely been a more ‘normal’ season thus far. We are all excited to have night games and have our fan section back. Unfortunately, last season was cut short right before playoffs due to COVID, but we are back and ready to make a run for the Shoreline title,” said MacDonald. “We are coming in with an unfinished-business mindset. We are back and ready to go.”



Chris Negrini is the Assistant Sports Editor for Zip06. Email Chris at c.negrini@shorepublishing.com.

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