As the girls soccer season kicked off last week with several teams hopeful for a state championship, the “Final Four” teams in last year’s state tournament have some re-tooling to do to return to the glory of a season ago.
All four of the coaches at A.I. du Pont High School, Charter School of Wilmington, Padua Academy, and St. Mark’s High School are ready for the task at hand.
A.I. du Pont
“We’re concerned with getting ready for the four games at the end in the state tournament,” A.I. du Pont first-year coach Shannon Bradbury said. “It’s a long season and our end goal are those four games for the state championship.”
Bradbury – an assistant coach in the previous two seasons – said new players would help give the team a new personality.
“The goal this year is for this team to create its own identity,” Bradbury said. “We’ve discussed having that target on our back a few times for motivation, but we need to fill some spots.”
“Losing in the state championship game state championship [to A.I.] stung, but the girls are excited and ready for another season,” Charter coach Jon Gillespie said after the Force moved to 2-0 with a 6-0 win over Glasgow Wednesday afternoon.
Gillespie said his mix of veterans and newcomers are meshing well in the Force’s effort to get back to the title game.
“A couple of the teams we beat are going to be gunning for us, but this is the hardest working group I’ve been around as coach, so I don’t see that being a problem,” he said.
Padua Academy, meanwhile, won 15 matches a year ago and with 10 of 11 starters from last season’s state semifinal team returning. Pandas’ coach Joe Brown is hopeful that they can stay focused on the task at hand.
“Any team can lose a soccer match on any given day,” Padua coach Joe Brown said. “The key is keeping the girls focused with so many distractions outside of soccer during the spring.”
The Spartans won 11 games before losing to A.I. in the semifinals and with just three starters returning (Emily Houck, Kristie Sanderson and Jenna Fannon), St. Mark’s coach Daniel Swasey is hopeful his team can learn on the fly.
“We’re extremely young this year,” Swasey said of his Spartans, who start sophomore Hannah Ciolek in goal. “It’s going to take a while for the younger players to click with the older players and hopefully we’re clicking at the end of the season.
E-mail Chris Stevens at email@example.com