They came to within two games of winning it all. The Sandwich girls’ soccer team (13-3-5) reached the semifinal round of the MIAA Division 2 South Sectionals last week only to lose to Scituate by a score of 1-0. Scituate then lost to Notre Dame Academy of Hingham, who will face off against Wilmington, the winner of the Division 2 North Sectional, for the Eastern Mass Division 2 Championship.
“We were two games away,” Coach Dave DeConto said. “Scituate’s top scorer, Erin Badger scored on a chip shot over our keepers fingertips halfway through the first half and that was the extent of the scoring.”
While the Knights may have lost the game and their shot at the championship, they proved just how talented they were as a team and put themselves squarely in the mix as one of the top teams to beat in 2014.
“This team was a very talented and cohesive group,” Coach DeConto pointed out. “They wanted to be the best team on and off the field. We have no standout players. They were a group of very good players that liked to play soccer and be around each other. There wasn’t anyone on the team that wouldn’t make a sacrifice for the benefit of the team. The girls were willing to do whatever it took to succeed and make the team go. I’m very proud of them all. We’ll miss our seniors, but we have a talented group coming back next year.”
The team had three captains, Kasey Noonan, Lea Adams and Caroline McKenna, and it was their leadership, along with the four other seniors that made it all work.
“Our leadership team has worked well,” the coach explained. “The seven members of that team made it what it was.”
Leading the team on the field was versatile and talented senior captain Lea Adams.
”Lea is a tough competitor,” DeConto said. “She leads by example. She can play any position on the field and is just a great all around player.”
Senior captain Kasey Noonan split time in net this fall with junior keeper Maggie LeVangie.
“Kasey is the emotional leader of the team,” the coach said. “She lifts the entire team and can be a very verbal leader. She is probably one of the most aggressive and toughest players on the field. As a keeper she’ll do whatever it takes to get to the ball.”
The third Blue Knight captain isn’t a senior, a fact that DeConto explains makes other coaches roll their eyes when they learn they’ll have to face her again next year. Junior Caroline McKenna brings the complete package to the game.
“She is the real deal,” the coach said. “Caroline plays the game beyond her years. She knows the game as well as any player I’ve ever seen and she has the ability to do just about whatever is needed.”
McKenna led the team this season in scoring with 16 goals and seven assists, finishing as one of the top scorers in the Atlantic Coast League.
“If she chooses to, she’ll make a good coach some day,” DeConto added. “Caroline really epitomizes what this whole team is about.”
Senior midfielder Sam Emerson was also a part of the leadership core this fall.
“I think Sam played in every game this year,” DeConto noted. “She is the ultimate player, who will do whatever it takes to make sure things are working. She worked with our younger kids this year and made sure no one got left behind.”
Senior midfielder Maddie LaRochelle was a force for the Knights coming out of the midfield.
“How do we replace Maddie?” DeConto asked. “It’s going to take two or three players. She has progressed by leaps and bounds this year.”
Senior defender Jessica Lizotte is another player that for the past four seasons has done some amazing things on the soccer field.
“She is our unsung hero,” the coach explained. “Jessie leads by example. She does her job and whatever is best for the team. She is smart and talented and is another one of those players that it will take several people to replace.”
Rounding out the list of seniors is defender Catie Wojnar.
“Catie is the last of the three Wojnar sisters to play soccer at Sandwich,” DeConto said. “She worked hard to break into the starting lineup and then took over the leadership role of the back line during the five games that Lea missed with her injury. Catie is a smart, mature player and knows what it takes to play in the middle of the field.”
Beyond the team leaders this fall there have been others that have made major contributions to the team’s success.
“She is probably one of the most gifted and talented soccer players that I’ve had the privilege to coach,” DeConto said of sophomore midfielder Becca Mandy. Tremendously talented, with a solid soccer intelligence, Mandy controls the ball and the midfield. “She does it all,” the coach added. “Becca never panics, she just keeps going, playing hard with a smile on her face.”
Sophomore Bella Collentro is another player that helps make the future look bright for Sandwich soccer.
“Bella is a very aggressive player and is the perfect fit in the middle with Becca (Mandy),” DeConto said.
Junior Stef Briggs is another part of the Blue Knight midfield.
“Stef is a passionate player to go along with her physical and technical ability,” the coach said. “She really came into her own this year.”
Back on defense junior Rachel Lake has been tough all season.
“Rachel is one of those defenders that is comfortable inside or on the outside,” the coach noted. “She is very talented and very calm with the ball.”
Sophomore Hailey Whelan was also a big part of the defense this fall.
“Hailey has some size and physical ability and can take the ball out of the air,” the coach explained. “She is very comfortable playing center back and thats where we start our offense.”
Another sophomore, defender Liz Wegman, will also play a big role in the coming years.
“Liz is another one that is comfortable taking the ball forward,” DeConto noted. “It’s very important to have that kind of a player. She is very focused on the field.”
Next year the Knights will have no worries in goal as junior Maggie LeVangie returns to the net.
“She has great athletic ability in goal and it keeps getting better,” DeConto said. “When she’s out there she has great mental focus.”
Also adding to the defense Colleen Macdonald and Emily MacDonald.
“They came off the bench and played some solid minutes this year,” the coach noted. “I’m looking forward to see what they can do next year.”
In the midfield the Knights have depth and talent.
“Kathryn Karolczak, Katie Lowry, Tatum Tropp and Julia Hanson will be taking the next step into playing some significant minutes at this level,” DeConto said. “All of them play in the offseason.”
Adding the the punch up front this fall were Lydia Evans, Brooke Hanson and Megan Forrester.
“They are all competing for one of the forward positions next year,” DeConto said. “They got a taste of it this year and they’re working to reach the next level.”
If there is one thing the Knights of 2013 know it is that there is work to be done.
“The job is not finished,” Coach DeConto added. “We want to win that state championship and we’re looking forward to having that chance next year.”