Coach Bob Palermo could not keep the happiness out of his voice. The season for the Mashpee High girls’ junior varsity soccer team ended about two weeks ago, but if it were up to the coach he’d be ready to start year two as the Falcons’ mentor tomorrow if the schedule allowed for it.
“It was just a great year, a great group of kids,” the coach said.
Coaches are known for throwing around superlatives, but in this case the word great does in fact fit. The JV Falcons had the best season they’ve ever had, posting an impressive 10-3-3 record. After October 1, the team did not lose a game and took it to several of the South Shore League’s perennial top dogs.
With the varsity girls’ team also posting a winning year, and qualifying for the state tournament along the way, it’s safe to say that the girls’ soccer program at Mashpee is entering a boon period. Normally there would not be much room for advancement for the younger players in the immediate future, since the varsity team did not have a single senior on the roster. They also barely had enough players to get through the season, finishing with just 12. That means that there will be ample spots available for several JVs to make the leap to the big team next year, and if the 2013 season is any indication of what they’re capable of, things will only get better for Head Coach Catherine Sullivan’s Falcons next year.
It’s hard to find much to complain about when it comes to the year that the JV Falcons had. A rough call here or there, or play that didn’t go there way, maybe, but the fact of the matter is that the squad was about as good as it gets in the SSL. Mashpee found the back of the net 52 times, an average of better than three goals per game, and allowed just 12 against all season long.
Goaltender Zana Green proved to be one of the team’s most improved players and was a big reason for the defensive successes. The keeper used aggressiveness and athleticism to stymie foe after foe and had a handful of shutouts to her credit.
Eighth grader Brooke Bridges played beyond her years at the sweeper spot. “She was a great defensive player,” the coach said. Bridges, whose older sister Rachel is a standout with the varsity, took the team’s free kicks and was one of the club’s defensive anchors.
Carolyn Dunham, a junior, was a fullback and one of the team’s leaders. The athletic defender had a strong season.
Kayla Pultz, a sophomore, was named one of the team’s captains midway through the year. Palermo said that she did a great job of rallying the younger players and bringing them into the fold. “She’s a real leader, she guided the eighth graders,” the coach said.
Jordan Schmetzer, a freshman, was one of the top defenders on the team. Palermo said she helped the team form an “iron curtain” on defense.
Kendall Cloutier had a rough season in terms of injuries, but was a constant for the team. When she wasn’t able to help on the field, she was rooting the club on from the sidelines and giving Palermo a sounding board for strategy.
A precocious youngster for the Mashpee midfield was Krista Murray, who brought plenty of energy to the table. “She ran for 70 minutes, hard,” the coach said.
Grace Shinn, also an eighth grader, helped out from the midfield and popped in a couple of goals over the course of the season for the Falcons. “She plays really well on both sides of the ball,” Palermo said.
Freshman Molly Kelleher also got in on the offensive act with a handful of goals for MHS. “She did everything that was asked of her and played all over the place,” the coach said.
Jordyn Carpenter, also a freshman, may have been the team’s toughest player. Coach Palermo recalled seeing the midfielder get a foot to the face during a game, then bounce up off the turf with a bloody lip and get back after the play without hesitation. “She had a smile on her face,” he said with a laugh. “She’s got a great attitude.”
Tara Palermo had a tough job, because the coach said that playing for a parent is never easy, especially in high school. Despite that burden, Palermo represented herself very well. She played with aggression, battled with opponents and was the second leading scorer on the club.
The leading scorer for the team was Katie Wellington, who played forward on the right side. She used her speed and scoring touch to fill the back of the net with regularity. Palermo said that she averaged a little better than a goal per game for the season.
Jess Schmetzer, a freshman, played on the wing and was another of the team’s forward speed merchants. “She scored goals just by being aggressive. She worked well with the other forwards, and played other spots too,” Palermo said.
Rachel Zaniewski, a junior, saw time up front. She beat opposing goalies a few times for goals and had a big left foot that she used to her team’s advantage despite a knee injury that nagged her all season long.
Finally, Paulina Kemis was new to the fold for Mashpee this year. The Spanish exchange student had to deal with a language barrier at times, but she rose to the occasion and helped the squad with superior footwork and ball skills.
All in all, Coach Palermo said that season one couldn’t have been much better, but he looks forward to trying to improve upon it next fall. “If we had another 10 games I don’t think that they would have lost a game,” he said. “It was a great experience. They taught me more than I taught them.”