NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— North Salem girls varsity soccer coach Bob Martin is a veteran coach who understands the cycle of high school sports programs. Every year kids graduate and go on to college, and new ones take their place.
The Tigers lost a number of key players to graduation, but Martin feels they have enough experienced veterans and talented newcomers to give them the potential for another exciting season of girls soccer at North Salem.
“I’m always positive going into a new season,” Martin said. “We lost a lot and it’s always a work in progress, but the kids are working hard. They continue to grow, and we have a positive outlook for a good season.”
It’s never easy to replace players like Paige Werlau and Julia D’Innocenzo lost to graduation, but the Tigers also lost returning starter Elsa Bechu, who moved out of the district. The Tigers lost eight starters in total from last year’s team that finished 6-11-1 overall.
Martin will rely on the three returning starters to lead the way. Senior Allie Bratt will be a big part of the Tigers’ success at midfield or forward, wherever she is needed on the field.
One position of strength should be in goal as senior Lindsey McSweeney is a returning starter to anchor the North Salem defense. Junior Kiera McCarthy also returns in goal after missing much of last year due to injury, so the Tigers have two capable netminders to get the job done.
Junior Lydia Werlau is the other returning starter, and she was one of the leading scorers for the Tigers last year.
Other veterans who return include seniors Catherine Bossi, Maggie Boardman and Sarah McLeod. They were spot starters who contributed last year, and they will have to step up as starters this year.
Amy Fetterolf, Amira Flayhan, Jenna Murphy and Kara Rollins were all mid-season call-ups to varsity last fall, and that experience should help as they take over bigger roles on the team this season.
Grace Curran and Kayla Gilbert are a couple of sophomore newcomers who should make an impact on varsity this year.
Martin will look for more newcomers to round out the roster as the Tigers hope to put together a winning season against a tough league schedule. Last year North Salem had to face defending state champion Haldane three times during the year, including a tough loss in the sectional tournament. The Tigers once again have Haldane as a league rival, along with Putnam Valley, Pawling, and Arlington B. They also face some very tough non-league opponents.
“Last year we lost a lot of 1-0, 2-1 tight contests, and hopefully, we can get on top of some of those games this year,” Martin said. “Haldane is always tough, and Putnam Valley is a much improved team. We have our work cut out for us. Every year you reload, work hard and see what happens.”
North Salem will start the season on the road against a pair of tough Class A schools. The Tigers open the season this Saturday, Sept. 2, at Lakeland at 2 p.m., and then they travel to Mamaroneck on Wednesday, Sept. 7. The Tigers home opener will be on Friday, Sept. 9, against Bronxville, a team that won the Class B state title two years ago.