MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Although all-time Indian scoring leader Kim Harker has graduated, she has left a special mark on Mahopac’s program.
“Knowing that she was going to be graduating eventually, she raised the whole program,” eighth-year head coach Jim Lieto said. “She really taught a lot of girls different things. I think she left us in a good spot in terms of leadership and work ethic.”
Harker, who now plays for Northwestern University, netted a single season program record of 100 goals that led Section 1 last year and netted her All-American honors. Fellow graduate Kelly Maxwell guided the Indians with a section leading 54 assists. The dynamic duo lifted Mahopac to its first ever section final appearance.
“Everyone’s working harder now because of her,” Lieto commented on Harker. “Everyone has higher expectations and goals, so that’s what she did leave with us.”
The Indians are returning seven starters from the 15-5 team of 2015 that defeated both Mamaroneck and North Rockland in the playoffs before falling 10-6 to Suffern in the Section 1 Class A final.
Lieto and the Indians are just moving on to the next target.
“Our goal last season was to make the finals and we accomplished that goal — not that we didn’t try to win that game,” Lieto said. “But now that we’ve broke that as a program, our goal will remain to compete for a section title every year. Keep that up no matter how many girls we graduate.”
Mahopac returns four senior captains in all-section honorable mention midfielder Tara Ravoli, all-league defenseman Katie Semenetz, all-section defenseman Alyssa Kirby and attacker Vicky Moundroukas.
“I think most of our top players are on defense this year,” Lieto said. “When I think of playmakers on this team, I think of Katie, Alyssa and Briana (Corace). We’re putting time in working on developing our offense and I think it’s going to be a big variety of players that contribute offensively.”
Senior Chelsea McNulty and junior Emily O’Shea will compete for the goaltender position. McNulty ended the season as the goalie last year and O’Shea started every game for the JV team as a sophomore. Jennifer Laga will see more light as a defenseman and take more responsibility this season.
Junior middie Kristen Maxwell was expected to play often this season until tearing her ACL. The two juniors in Corace and Gabby Light are expected to play bigger roles in the midfield this season as a result.
“Every year she has taken huge steps to get better,” Lieto said of Corace, who has been playing on varsity since her freshman year.
The returning leading scorer for Mahopac, senior all-league honorable-mention Ali Korin, is expected to play midfield. Korin will assume the place of Harker.
“She’s really gonna fill that hole of Harker,” Lieto said. “She’s a very strong offensive player, gets up and down the field really well like Harker does.”
New faces to the varsity team may make an immediate impact for the Indians too. Two more juniors in defenseman/midfielder Kim Schiera and attacker Diana Good will compete for minutes this season.
“Diana Good has worked hard all offseason,” Lieto informed. “She’s looking to come in strong and try to earn a spot on attack or midfield.”
Sophomore midfielder Morgan Kirby and freshman Katie McDonough may be ready to contribute for 2016 also.
“She’s very athletic and a smart athlete,” Lieto said of Kirby, who is the sister of senior Alyssa Kirby. “She’s gonna help play a role for us.”
Big sister Alyssa sees plenty of potential in the younger Indians.
“We do have some really good newcomers coming up,” Alyssa Kirby said. “I think the key this year is just getting our stick skills where they were last year. We want to back our defense. I think that the backer will be key to a lot of our wins during the season.”
For Ravoli, repeat success will require teamwork.
“I think that we have a lot of individual talent, but last year we were more familiar with each other,” Ravoli said. “I think once we get used to playing with one another and putting it all together it’s gonna look a lot better.”
No matter how they go about it — one thing is certain — Mahopac will be shooting for the stars once again this season.
“Hopefully this year we’ll win the section final,” Lieto said. “That’ll remain our goal for as long as I’m here because I know we have enough talented players at every position. We had the chance to experience what it was like to play for a championship last year and we don’t want to take a step back.”
The Indians will open their season when they travel to Putnam Valley for a 4:30 p.m. contest on March 28 and then will host Lakeland/Panas at the same time two days later.