BRISTOL - For the local girls soccer programs, Terryville and St. Paul led the way last season. Both teams had outstanding seasons and also lost some notable seniors coming into this year.
For this season, Terryville has a much more inexperienced group than St. Paul, as St. Paul still returns some key players and should be a top team in the area.
The other two programs, Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central, are expecting to have better seasons this year with the head coaches in their second season with the programs.
Eastern showed flashes of strong play last fall, but coach Scott Redman is hoping for more consistency out of his group this season.
For Bristol Central, the youth and inexperience could be pivotal in the outcome of its season, but coach Ginny Godbout likes what she’s seen thus far.
Following is a closer look at each team’s expectations for this season.
Head coach: Brian Rosano (5th season), 38-35
Last season: 11-5, Class S semifinalist
Key starters: Maria Cesare (senior, goalie), Sydney Lopes (senior, midfield), Lindsey Hotchkiss (junior, midfield), Amy Roqi (sophomore, midfield)
Key reserves: Amy Ieronimo (senior), Haley Guariello (senior), Mackenzie Gizzie (senior), Alana Girch (senior)
Key losses: Jenna Covello
Kangaroos’ outlook: Last season was a successful one for Terryville. With three-time All-State forward Jenna Covello graduated and off to CCSU, Terryville also lost six other long-time varsity starters.
While the losses were huge, Terryville still has varsity experience on its roster. It all starts in goal with Maria Cesare. Cesare is the all-time leader in wins for Terryville with 34. She will have juniors Isabella Greene and Jordan Pilbin on defense alongside underclassmen Kelly Poulin and Kassie McCarthy. Cesare will hope that her six shutouts from last season can be replicated with her new-look defense.
Offensively, youth is also prevalent. Terryville only has one senior at midfield and forward, Sydney Lopes. Last season, Lopes finished with two goals and nine assists.
Junior Lindsey Hotchkiss will be another key with Lopes. Hotchkiss finished last season with two goals and seven assists.
Sophomore Amy Roqi will see an expanded role this season. In her playing time last year, Roqi had two goals and three assists.
Coming off of a very successful season last year, Terryville will need its young players to produce in order to have a similar season.
In the league, Lewis Mills and Nonnewaug should be the teams to beat this season. Northwestern Regional will again be a strong team. From top to bottom, the league is very competitive and Terryville’s younger players will have to adapt fast.
Head coach: Jim Husbands (4th season)
Last year: 10-4-2, lost to Wolcott in NVL tournament, 2-1 in Class S tournament, 12-6-2 overall
Key players: Briana Senese (senior, midfielder), Kendall Davis (senior, striker), Addison Davis (junior, defense), Nina Zwolinski (freshman, goalie)
Falcons’ outlook: Last season, St. Paul had a very strong year, which ended in the Class S quarterfinals. This season the Falcons are looking to go much further and the pieces are in place to do so.
The leaders of the team are seniors Kendall Davis and Briana Senese. Senese is a center midfielder and Davis is a striker. Last season Davis was a 30-goal scorer and was first team All-State in Class S.
St. Paul has a strong junior class as well, led by Addison Davis. She is the best defender for the Falcons and is a top defender in Class S. Julia Dess is another important junior for St. Paul. Dess is a three-year starter at center striker and led the team in assists last season as the primary playmaker.
Freshman goalie Nina Zwolinski is expected to be a major contributor for the Falcons. Coach Husbands believes that Zwolinski is one of the best prospects that St. Paul has ever had under him and that she can quickly establish herself as the best goalie in the NVL.
St. Paul has seven freshmen that could see meaningful playing time, four of which are potential starters.
The non-conference schedule for St. Paul features two tough games against Portland and Haddam Killingworth. Portland finished as semifinalists in last year’s Class S tournament.
The Falcons are looking to become part of the elite class in the NVL, alongside Holy Cross, Watertown and Woodland.
With the return of former head coach Flavio Pereira, player development and better technique and ball skills should improve, according to Husbands.
With seven starters with at least three years of varsity experience under their belt and the expectations for Zwolinski, the Falcons could have one of their best seasons in recent memory.
Head coach: Scott Redman (2nd year), 47-49-6 overall career
Last year: 7-8-1 regular season (7-9-1 overall), second in division, lost in first round of state tournament
Key starters: Myah Croze (junior, two-time all-conference, led team with 16 goals in 2016 and had six assists), Kailey Laprise (junior, all-conference last season), Leah Policarpio (sophomore, all-conference last season and led team with nine assists, finished second with eight goals).
Key reserves: Kasey Simpson (senior, defense), Avery Arbuckle (sophomore, defense) Kate Kozikowski (freshman, midfield), Hanna Richards (junior, goalie)
Lancers’ outlook: Bristol Eastern returns a number of players with varsity experience. That will be a strength for this team. One issue with Bristol Eastern is that the team lacks depth.
For the Lancers, the team has a tough schedule and after just finishing under .500 last year, ending with at least a .500 record would be considered a successful season.
There are just three teams in the newly-formed CCC South Patriot Division, which Bristol Eastern is now a part of along with Plainville and Bristol Central.
Since there are only three teams thanks to the newly-reconfigured CCC, the division will be up for grabs. This year’s Eastern team has a good shot at making a run for the division crown, as it brings more experience to the table than the other teams.
The keys to do so include staying healthy, due to the lack of depth, and finding consistency on the field throughout the season.
Head coach: Ginny Godbout (2nd year)
Last year: 5-10-1
Probable starters: Aubrey Kelley (senior, goalie), Morgan Crumrine (senior, midfield), Sarah Guerin (senior, defense), Selena Norton (senior, midfield, captain), Ashley Macdonald (senior, midfield, captain), Adalia Malick (junior, midfield, captain), Erika Santilli (junior, defense), Mia Hinton (sophomore, forward), Faith Roy (sophomore, defense), Lily Hansen (freshman, defense), Jenna Lowe (freshman, midfield)
Key reserves: Sydney Capezzone (senior), Zoe Sinclair (senior), Abby Gorneault (junior), Mia Santilli (sophomore)
Rams’ outlook: Bristol Central’s strength is in the middle of the field. It all starts with Ashley Macdonald, who was all-conference last season for Central and is the leader of the team.
Like other high school teams, the weakness lies with the inexperience and youth for Central. Figuring out the roles of each player will come in time, but so far coach Godbout likes what she’s seen in practice.
After just missing the tournament last season, the goal for Central is to get back to the state tournament. However, going .500 is something that Godbout believes this team is more than capable of doing.