Don Jablonski is back as the girls’ soccer coach at Lake High School, and he and the Flyers are looking for big things this season.
Jablonski, who helped start the Flyers’ soccer program back in 2003, coached at Lake through the 2005 season before moving on to coach at Central Catholic for the last seven years. He made the move back to Lake after Kevin Lanning moved on after coaching for two seasons.
“The numbers at Central were dwindling and the freshman classes were getting smaller,” Jablonski said. “I wasn’t even sure we were going to have a team this year. I’m getting up in years (61), and I still wanted to do this.”
|Lake girls’ soccer: Top row (standing): Coach Melissa Hamons, Tabitha Aikman, Morgan Baum, Alicia Frisinger, Chloe Huston,
Alexis Hansen, and Coach Don Jablonski. Middle row: Kayla Saffran, Angelica Aikman, Jordyn Taylor, McKenzie Brittenham,
Brianna Reed, Haley Perry, Nicole Pennington, and Rebekah Swartz. Front row (sitting): Kaity Weis, Catie Phalen, Lauren Ozuk,
Emily Lovell, Allison Perry, and Nicole Jones. (Photo courtesy of Innovations Portrait Studio)
Jablonski takes over a program that has gone 49-0-1 in the Suburban Lakes League and Northern Buckeye Conference over the past five years. Last year’s squad finished 14-3 and 10-0 in the NBC and outscored its opponents by a 68-9 margin. Lake lost to eventual state semifinalist St. Ursula Academy, 1-0, in the first round of the postseason.
The Flyers will have to replace second-team All-Ohio forward Shelby Antonacci (21 goals, 11 assists), who is now at the University of Toledo, and Kayla Encalado (17 goals, 6 assists). They do, however, return 10 full- or part-time starters and 11 letterwinners.
“I have high expectations, and the girls expect that from me now,” Jablonski said. “I expect to win the league again. We have good leadership. The kids who came back from last year are great leaders. We have a strong incoming freshman class, where there’s probably five freshmen who could start at any given time.”
Heading into Thursday’s home game against Genoa, the Flyers had a 2-1 record with wins over Otsego (9-0) and Northwood (5-0) and a 7-1 loss to St. Ursula on Monday.
“In the preseason we played Northview, Southview, Notre Dame, Anthony Wayne, Clay, Findlay,” Jablonski said. “Against Otsego, it showed, We dominated every aspect of the game. It was a good game for me to show the kids what they need to do, and do it. We kind of sputtered against Northwood but still did very well. (Monday) night against St. Ursula, the speed of play hurt us. We were a step behind.”
Lake’s returning senior starters include forward Tabitha Aikman, who has three goals and two assists through three games, midfielder Nicole Jones and center defender Nicole Pennington. Returning junior starters include center-mid Katie Phalen (3 goals), center-mid Jordyn Taylor, forward Alexis Hansen and center defender Allison Perry.
Jablonski said that Taylor, who led the team with 12 assists in 2012, is “probably the best all-around athlete on the team.” Aikman and Jones scored six and five goals, respectively, a year ago.
“It’s a very talented group,” Jablonski said. “I expect more from the kids who play at the top clubs. I was surprised to see the athleticism they have. Now we have to teach them how to use that and turn it into soccer skills.”
Returning sophomore starters include forward Chloe Huston and outside defenders Alicia Frisinger and McKenzie Brittenham. Freshman Emily Lovell is the starting keeper and is backed up by sophomore Lauren Ozuk.
“I like Emily’s confidence,” Jablonski said, “and she is technically sound.”
The coach added that three young players who will see a lot of time this season are freshmen Kayla Saffran, Kaity Weis and Rebekah Swartz.
“We’ve changed to a new system of play, one that I used at Central, that produces more goals,” Jablonski said. “We have to have speedy players, and this team is pretty quick. I have some talented freshmen who come from some good (travel) clubs. They play midfield and are great ballhandlers and they compete really well. That’s what I’m looking for from these girls, the way they compete.”
Jablonski added that the Flyers are preparing to make a long run in the postseason.
“They want to get out of the districts,” he said. “The last two years they’ve been in the same bracket with St. Ursula, which has moved up to Division I, so we have a good chance of getting out of districts. Our long-term goal is to get to regionals. That’s a good goal, and that’s a goal that can be accomplished.”
Lake girls’ soccer: Top row (standing): Coach Melissa Hamons, Tabitha Aikman, Morgan Baum, Alicia Frisinger, Chloe Huston, Alexis Hansen, and Coach Don Jablonski. Middle row: Kayla Saffran, Angelica Aikman, Jordyn Taylor, McKenzie Brittenham, Brianna Reed, Haley Perry, Nicole Pennington, and Rebekah Swartz. Front row (sitting): Kaity Weis, Catie Phalen, Lauren Ozuk, Emily Lovell, Allison Perry, and Nicole Jones. (Photo courtesy of Innovations Portrait Studio)