SOMERS, N.Y. – With eight starters returning, Somers’ girls soccer team will look to return to the top of the Class A mountaintop this season.
But coach Paul Saia isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“I feel like we always try to put the bar high and try to strive for those goals,” said Saia, whose team last made an appearance in the section final in 2016. “Just because we have a lot of returning players, that doesn’t mean anything. This team hasn’t accomplished anything yet.”
Somers, which lost to section finalist Pearl River, 2-0, in the quarterfinals last year, graduated some key players like Alex Pittman, Alix Goldman and Mia Klayman.
“We lost some critical players from last year,” Saia said. “Even though we didn’t lose that many in number, but the quality and leadership of those players was invaluable.”
Pittman was the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons, so Somers will need a team effort to make up for her production, Saia said.
“It’s going to be a collective effort, absolutely,” he said. “I actually like it better that way because you spread the scoring out a little bit. We need players to step up this year. Even though they were in the starting lineup (last year), they still need to step up and pick it up a notch.”
Jessica Rodriguez, a senior who is committed to Iona College, is a force in the midfield and will be counted on to find the back of the net. “She’s very solid and a very good player in the middle,” Saia said.
Kayleigh Kenny, a senior who is committed to Drexel University, is another key midfielder for Somers.
“We’ll move her around but she’ll primarily play outside mid,” Saia said. “The girl can run forever. She’s very physically strong, has great ball skills and can defend anybody.”
Fellow seniors, Karlene Kurtz and Meghan Blanch, will also be critical midfielders for the Tuskers.
Dahlia Pepe, a junior midfielder, set up the majority of Pittman’s goals and should be a goal distributing magician again in 2019.
“She is great on the assists and I’m expecting her to score more goals than she did last year,” Saia said.
Leading the defense is senior Alexis Atkinson, who joins Rodriguez as an Iona College commit.
“I would say she’s one of the best defenders in the section,” Saia said. “She’s very athletic, she’s very good with both feet and she’s very fast.”
A big addition for Somers is senior goalkeeper Rachel Ross, who returns after playing academy soccer the past two seasons. She is committed to Rider University.
Kayli McMorrow, a junior, is another returning starter on defense. Junior Noelle DeMarinis, junior Alexa Vanga and senior Jordan May are other players the Tuskers will look toward to fill out the defense.
“I feel like we are a well-rounded team,” Saia said. “I think defensively we’ll be solid and to me you build a team from defense.”
Somers is scheduled to open the season by traveling to Harrison on Wednesday, Sept. 4. It then has its home opener when it welcomes Gorton for a 4:15 p.m. game on Friday, Sept. 6.
“We haven’t been back to the section finals since 2016 and that is our objective to get back there,” Saia said.