Defending a conference championship hasn’t been something Clay’s girls’ soccer team has had to do since 2009, a year after the Eagles won the City League championship.
Coach Scott Wamer’s squad, however, will attempt to do just that this season. The Eagles return four starters and seven letterwinners to a team that captured the Three Rivers Athletic Conference title last year with a 6-1 record. They finished 10-7-2 overall, losing to eventual Division I state champion Perrysburg in the district semifinals.
Wamer, whose team opens the season Aug. 19, said this year’s team will be “explosive.”
|Clay returns Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press
Goalkeeper of the Year Alyssa Heintschel.
(Press photo by Scott Grau)
“The chemistry is not where it was last year at this time, because we had six seniors and a lot of leadership,” he said. “We have athletes who are going to fall into that role sooner or later. The conference is going to be extremely competitive again. Four teams are in line for the top spot. If we play our best soccer on those nights, we can have a very good chance of repeating.”
Keeper Alyssa Heintschel, an All-TRAC and all-district selection last year, returns for her senior season after recording 66 saves in 2012. She helped the Eagles post five consecutive shutouts prior to the loss to Perrysburg last fall.
Heintschel has given Ball State a verbal agreement to play for the Cardinals next year.
“She does everything right,” Wamer said. “She got all the technical training she needed at an earlier age. She’s gone to all the right camps. She has done everything right to put herself in this position. She was my first-ever captain as a freshman, and she has been a three-year captain.”
The Eagles’ top returning scorer is senior striker Honnah Susor, who had eight goals and six assists last season. She will play softball at Wright State University next year.
“Honnah is big, strong and fast,” Wamer said. “She’s a four-year varsity player, so the more experience she gets, the better she is. I switched her position halfway through last year. She was a striker and we’ve moved her to the center-mid position and we hope she holds down the middle of the field for us. You can’t win without contolling the middle of the field.”
Clay’s other returning starters are senior fullback Haley Kubicki and junior midfielder Kara Simon, who had four goals and seven assists a year ago. Both are three-year varsity players.
“Haley is a hard-nosed fullback,” Wamer said. “She definitely knows how to use her body to her advantage. She is not afraid of contact. Being a third-year varsity player, her skill has increased dramatically. She’s used to making good choices with the ball. Kara has good speed and good skill on the outside.”
Jenna Kidd and Alyssa Heck, both junior fullbacks, and junior striker Hayley Schiavone earned varsity letters last season and will be looked upon to increase their roles this year.
“Jenna is doing all the right things,” Wamer said. “She plays club (soccer) in the spring and she has good speed. She’s going to definitely give us some depth on the back line this year, which we need because we lost three starting fullbacks.
“Alyssa came off the bench last year and got some valuable experience. She’s probably going to step into a role that she’s going to see increased playing time. She’s going to be on the field a lot more than she was last year. Hayley is like a point guard in basketball. Technically, she’s very good. She would rather have the assist than the goal. When the ball is at her feet, she’s looking to distribute to try and get that assist.”
Wamer is anxious for the return of junior midfielder Rachael Kuecher, who tore her ACL during basketball season. The coach also hopes for production from sophomore midfielder Brittany Goralske.
“Rachael has worked extremely hard to get herself back in playing shape,” Wamer said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what she can bring to us. Brittany played one year of jayvee and brings a lot of technical ball skill, and she sees the field very well.”
The Eagles will have six freshmen on the varsity roster for the first time in Wamer’s tenure. They include fullback Joci Verb, midfielders Marisa Vislay and Sydney Hess, strikers Karleigh Clere and Alex Vartorella, and fullback-midfielder Sami Heintschel.
“The freshmen are coming in with a lot of club experience and they are very skilled, and they bring a lot of speed,” Wamer said. “We are much faster than we have been in years past. The freshmen all come in with a lot of tactical skill and a lot of speed. Experience at the club level has given them the opportunity to play varsity at a young age.”
Clay returns Alan Miller Jewelers All-Press Goalkeeper of the Year Alyssa Heintschel. (Press photo by Scott Grau)