RANDOLPH, NJ- Success would be an understatement if the word was used to describe the 2013 season for the Randolph girls soccer team. The Lady Rams finished the year with an 18-3-2 record, were the Morris County Tournament co-champions and made it to the section 1 group 4 state finals. However, despite all this success, their season ended on a bittersweet note.
There is no shame in losing a state championship final game, but when a team dramatically outplays their opponent and still loses, it stings just a little bit more. After conceding an early goal on a strange bounce, Randolph spent most of the game in their opponent Livingston’s attacking third. If it wasn’t for the stellar effort of Livingston’s keeper, who made multiple key saves, the Rams might have been crowned champions.
One of the biggest questions heading into the 2014 season is how to replace a star studded senior class. Anna Conklin led the team with 17 goals and 13 assists last year. She was named first team all state and received a full scholarship to play at South Carolina. They also need to replace three other seniors in the starting lineup including Dana Shalit, who scored 12 goals with 5 assists, and one of their speedy defensive standouts in Rachel Lieberman.
All that is in the past and Randolph is ready to move forward with a new youthful core of players. Senior captain Maria Fairfield, who tallied 3 goals and 5 assists last year, knows it won’t be easy but is looking forward to the challenge, “It’s going to be very competitive, every year presents a new challenge and we are looking forward to it.”
Among that core group of players is Katja Brackelmanns who scored 10 goals last year and added 4 assists. Goalkeeper Rachel Fennel returns for her junior season, following an impressive sophomore year in which she recorded 10 shut outs. Their play will be critical to the Rams success this year.
Three girls who saw significant time as sophomores last year, Gillian McConnell ( 4 goals and 4 assists ) Esther Wellmann ( 1 goal and 2 assists ) and Vicky Mattson ( 3 goals ) will be counted on to step up and fill larger roles in their junior seasons.
Coach Colleen Souflay believes her team’s youth may be a blessing in disguise moving forward. “We are young but also very talented. The more these girls play together the better chemistry they will develop. Moving forward we have a lot of potential.”
If there’s one thing coach Souflay knows how to do it is get the best out of her players. The Rams have 5 straight winning seasons averaging 12 plus wins per year during that span.
The girls open the season at home against Newton on September 5th.