At the end of the fall sports season last year, both the girls and boys soccer teams were greeted with success; with senior players including Matthew Mullock, Chris Grahn, and Josh Murdy dominating the boys’ field and goalie Gaelyn Gregory supporting a strong, all-senior back line for the girls, it was no surprise to fans that both MFS soccer teams were successful in bringing home the gold. However, with a state title under each team’s belt and the mounting pressure to repeat the same winning number as last year increasing as the season progresses, how will both teams fare with key components of last season’s line-up missing?
“We didn’t know what to expect coming into the season,” says Junior Alexis Kasper of the Girls’ Varsity soccer team. “Everyone thought that this season would change for the worst for us.” One can hardly blame the players from wondering if they could replicate their past success. Winning a state tournament with a strong line-up is a difficult enough task; winning a state tournament with so many fresh, inexperienced faces comprising the starting line-up is even tougher. However, Kasper countered this idea and proclaimed that new players have, in fact, aided the team towards success both on and off the field. “Getting new freshmen really helped build [our team dynamic] back up after losing so much”, she said enthusiastically. When asked how she perceives the girls soccer team this season will compare to both other teams in the league and to the team last season, Kasper said, “There is definitely some pressure on us since we’re favored, again, to be one of the best teams”. With a 3-1 record to start off the season, expectations by both players and fans for end-of-season success are certainly high. “We’re just playing our game”, she asserted, emanating confidence.
Girls’ Varsity Soccer coach Katie Stutz noted, “We’re working on building leadership from the upperclassmen this year.” As the majority of the players on the girls soccer team this season are juniors, Coach Stutz noted, “[the juniors on the team] are definitely going to be instrumental.” But will having only three seniors playing on the varsity team effect the team dynamic? Winning a state championship three years in a row is no easy feat, and a lack of cooperation among grades could become a dramatic offset. Coach Stutz acknowledged this point, stating, “when they work well together they can go all the way, but they need to work together as a team and not as individuals.” However, leadership and team dynamics aside, when questioned how she visualizes the girls soccer team performing this year in both the Friends League and State’s play, Coach Stutz stated, with an ardent expression, “I expect great things from our team this year.”
The future of the Boys’ Soccer team looks similarly bright, despite the loss of many great players. With the graduation of a Division One player, an extraordinarily talented goalie, and more vital components of the starting line-up, fans of the Boys’ Varsity team have been nervously awaiting this fall season. However, putting fan’s worries to rest, Boys soccer goalie Teddy Kinzler comments on how the team has successfully adapted to losing several graduated seniors by changing their playstyle: “Since we lost a lot of our players last year who would ‘just kick the ball up the field and go straight to goal’, this year we are a lot more defensive team that tends to keep the ball in the back, possess, and then move forward and try to score.” But one would assume losing almost half of last year’s starting lineup would cause the team to face a remarkable blow off the field. When asked how the team has changed socially compared to last season, Teddy assures, “We’re still a group of guys that loves everyone on the team.” And faithfully keeping with tradition and a spirit of team camaraderie, Teddy notes, “Every Tuesday night we go to wing night; last week we had seventeen boys go, which is the most we’ve ever had”.
Coach Mike Schlotterbeck of the Boys’ Varsity Team says his team “will need to be very healthy this year” in order to, once again, compete for the state title. Though he recognizes that the boys soccer team has lost some vital players to graduation, particularly “Chris Grahn, Kieran McMenamin, Matthew Mullock and Josh Murdy,” Coach Schlotterbeck also notes that the team has been “slowly but surely” adapting to the new set of players on the field, and is confident that they will continue to improve. He remarks that his goals for the team are to “qualify for Friends League playoffs” and “maintain a very competitive attitude”. Simply by watching the Boys soccer team play in any given game, fans have already been reassured that the team will stay competitive no matter what.. Excitement creeping up in his voice, Coach Schlotterbeck notes, “Every year’s a new year.”