CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – In most years, Coach Dave Nuttall’s primary objective would be considered very odd.

“My first hope is that we get through the season uninterrupted,” he said. But this is 2020 and normal is nothing anyone has known for quite a while. Still, his girls have put a very good face on the start of this very unusual time.

“The kids are very excited to have the opportunity to play again this fall. There is a strong rapport and team spirit within the girls soccer program. So they are so happy to be back together,” Nuttall added.

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The loss of midfielder Kaitlyn Weis and four-year starter Charlotte Wilmoth dampens things a bit. But the 12-4-2 record and run to the section quarterfinals still bodes well for this year. We have a strong core group from last year and are now a year older,” said Nuttall.

This includes several seniors who were part of the team that won the sectionals three years ago. “They now need to use that experience to lead the way and help our younger players step up their game,” he said, and Nuttall definitely senses a good group coming up.

That said, the back end has him feeling best. “Our defense is very strong with some seasoned varsity players who have been on the team since freshman year,” Nuttall said.

The coach also has a couple of key offensive players in mind. Brynn DiGuglielmo is a versatile attacking player who can play out wide or attack at midfield. She also has the ability to beat players, create opportunities, and deliver dangerous crosses and finish, according to Nuttall.

Additionally, John Jay is relying Mia DiChiara’s ability to create and score. “Mia is a fast and strong. She works tirelessly and is a handful for any defense,” said Nuttall.

However, Nuttall felt the girls came up short on too many occasions. “We need to finish more chances,” he said. “We created a lot last year, but did not convert nearly enough.”

The lost practice time doesn’t help, but is preferable to the alternative, the coach reasoned. Social distancing also limits team interaction so teams will have to get creative to develop cohesion.

On the other hand, togetherness already has a firm footing on this team.

“We have a lot of players on the field who put in a great deal of effort and grit into a game. The team really does spur each other on,” he asserted.

In goal, Shannon Nolan is coming off a strong freshman year but will have a challenger. Ilana Posner has returned from the Development Academy Program, and the two will compete for playing time.

Otherwise, the later start and finish will likely add extra seasonal elements—and probably attire. But the game is still the game, according to Nuttall. “It’s about not letting the environment distract you,” he said.

Either way, the coach is on point with his expectations. “We are hopeful to have the best record we can, and I hope we win our league,” Nuttall concluded.