MCS girls soccer looks to mix and match

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By John Bernhardt
Margaretville girls’ soccer coach Toni Smith has more questions than answers as her team prepares for the upcoming season. The defending Delaware League co-champions (12-3-2, 7-1-1) were hard hit by with the graduation of five key seniors, a group that includes last year’s goalie, sweeper, stopper, center midfielder and leading scorer, all seasoned veterans and strong leaders. Smith has a lot of holes to fill as she prepares her Blue Devils for the coming season.

Compounding Smith’s challenge is a short roster, sprinkled with players starting the season with injury concerns. The Margaretville coach hopes answers will emerge as the preseason unfolds.
One thing is for certain, moving forward Smith’s team will need to embrace some flexible thinking. To get the most from her roster will likely require new playing schemes and a mix-and-match use of personnel, with players taking on differing roles from game to game or even within a single contest as each game dictates.

Returning leaders
Smith has five seniors and will count heavily on the experience of Kaitlin Short and Cecilia Galatioto. Short was an outside wing on last year’s championship team and played every second of every game. A summer injury has sidelined Short for at least the first two weeks of the season.

Galatioto, one of Smith’s strongest returners who played in both the midfield and on the forward line last year, should provide some of the flexibility and versatility the Blue Devils need this fall.

Annette Hogan, a midfielder, returns, and will play a key role in the game plan. “I’m not sure where Annette will eventually land of the field,” noted Smith. It could be in one or more places. Wherever she plays, she’ll fill a critical need. We need Annette to help lead this fall.”

Senior Tiffany Nobile will most likely be working as an outside defender, an area of the field she is familiar with from last season. And, senior Heather Brewer will be tending the goal. This fall will mark Brewer’s first season in the nets, but the senior does have experience tending during indoor soccer contests.

Much of the fluidity Smith is looking for will come from a group of five juniors. Cora Bruno, an outside forward, and Elia Tanzer, last year’s center striker, turned speed and foot skills into offensive production last year. Tanzer scored 14 goals with five assists with Bruno scoring nine times and dishing out four assists. Smith expects both juniors to lead the offensive charge but understands both could spend time playing at other positions during a game as the situation demands.

Jessica Camano returns in the midfield with good speed and the ability to play the ball and should see time as part of the gang of five or six who run up front. Junior Lindsay Day could also see some time of the forward line.

Alana Moskowitz, another junior, returns to bolster the defense. Smith feels the experience Moskowitz gleaned last season will make her a key piece of Margaretville’s defensive outlook.
Four sophomores, up from the last season’s modified team, Adriana Endaya, Shannon Fairbairn, Ithay Silva and Carly Shultis, round out the squad. One week of practice is not adequate time for Smith to figure out where or how her newest players will fit. But, with only 14 girls on her squad, Smith hopes the learning curve of her newest players is short.

Further upping the challenge is a rugged early schedule. The Blue Devils open their season facing traditional Tri-Valley League power Milford at the Hall of Fame fields in Oneonta, then begin Delaware League play by tackling Ray Preston’s Wildcats in Davenport.

“I’m hoping we can learn a lot about ourselves and a lot about soccer this season,” emphasizes Smith. “We’re looking to get more and more competitive as the season progresses. We’ll be okay if the girls play to their strengths, are flexible, and support each other.”