A run of three straight Middlesex League girls soccer titles and two straight undefeated league seasons . But the Sachems don't expect any sympathy from their opponents this season.
"We play in a challenging league, and every match that we play in seems to be a hard one," coach Chris Scanlon said. "We tend to be the team that everyone hates. Whatever level they're at they give us their best shot."
The Sachems graduated six starters from last year team, which finished 13-7 and lost in the Division 1 North quarterfinals, but return 18 players, including both goalkeepers.
The back line will be an experienced group with fourth-year varsity player Maggie Connolly and two third-year players, junior Marissa Wiegner and junior Katherine Zavez. Connolly, the most senior member of the team, leads vocally and by example.
"She's very well liked by the players because she's just a nice person, she works hard, and she's a committed athlete," Scanlon said. "That's a nice combination — someone who's not afraid to speak up and someone who backs up her words with her actions."
The midfield is led by captains Remi Dire and Emy Stratton. Dire excels at the possession game Winchester is known for, and Stratton is moving from fullback into a more attacking position on the wing, which she played at the junior varsity level.
The forward line is boosted by the return of Lauren Valdario. She suffered concussions in hockey and lacrosse and missed most of the 2010 season, but she's recovered fully now.
"She's one of our most outstanding players now, and that's difficult when she hasn't played in a long time, but it looks like she's never stopped playing," Scanlon said. "I couldn't be happier with what she's given us."
The team returns two goalies, senior Annie Langlois and junior MacKenzie Koss, and add sophomore Dierdre Macrorie. Langlois, who is in her third year on the varsity, and Macrorie each played a half in the team's first scrimmage against Montclair (N.J.), while Koss is still recovering from a back injury she suffered in the spring.
Besides the tough league schedule, the Sachems will also be tested by teams like Andover and Division 1 state champion Central Catholic. But Scanlon expects the seniors on this team to rise to the challenge.
"Every senior group that I've ever coached always wants to have this as their best year," Scanlon said. "I'm confident this senior group and all the players that are returning want to be more successful than they were last year."
Winchester girls soccer
Last season: 13-7
Key players: Maggie Connolly, Sr., D; Remi Dire, Sr., M; Lauren
Valderio, Sr., F; Annie Langlois, Sr., G; Emy Stratton, Sr., M; Meg
Hennessey, Jr., M; Katherine Zavez, Jr., D.
Key losses: Shannon Quinn, F; Emily Aliberti, D.
Outlook: A strong corps of seniors and a large, talented junior class
should help the Sachems bounce back from an unusually tough season
last year. Despite losing Aliberti, who is now at Babson, Winchester
is solid in the back
with three experienced fullbacks and two returning goalies.
Quote: "These kids are going to be tested, there's no question." —
coach Chris Scanlon.