Girls soccer: Central League previews

Tuesday’s paper played host to the high school soccer preview, which included my feature story on the influence of British coaches in Delaware County plus five players to watch for boys and girls. As promised, here is a team-by-team look at the soccer programs in Delaware County.

Plenty of teams will enter the regular season still in search of an identity. Haverford isn’t one of them.

This year’s Fords team is tough at the back and fast in midfield, a combination they hope to use to build on last season’s 14-5 record.

Strath Haven forward Ami Iannello will be at the center of the Panthers' attack this season. (Times File)

Strath Haven forward Ami Iannello will be at the center of the Panthers’ attack this season. (Times File)

The midfield will be capable of producing attractive soccer thanks to Olivia Butera, Jess Lyons and the speedy Athena Pilato, all of whom contributed significantly last fall. Though coach Alexandra Hill has to replace All-Delco goalkeeper Kelly Rogers, the defense that returns is stout thanks to Kayla Blair (back from injury), Hannah Dodds and Josie Schultz.

Time could be ticking on the Strath Haven Central League dynasty. After losing three All-Delcos from last season, the Panthers have a major void to fill at each level of the team without forward Kristen Miller, midfielder Sophie Murphy and defender and player of the year Allie Wilson. The talent pipeline has replacements waiting in the wings, but it will take time to mesh, and the star-driven dynamic that has propelled the Panthers to such heights over the last three seasons will likely change to a more team-centric approach.

At least the defense is in good shape. Katie Fisher returns in goal after owning the No. 1 job as a sophomore. The defense will be marshalled by Kira Venturini and Grace Dickey, a pair of seniors who saw significant minutes a season ago.

The attack and midfield will be built on the framework derived from Gino Miraglia’s emphasis on technical soccer with a variety of individuals asked to contribute. Senior Ami Iannello will occupy one wing forward spot, while Anika Kruse and Carly Glassford will likely slide into the center of midfield to hold court there. Maddie Forbes, Maddy Tannert-Schmidt and Lizzie King will be called upon for finishing duties, while Grace Haase and Claire Van Duyne will provide a spark in midfield.

There are only four defections from last year’s Garnet Valley squad, and though All-Delco Haley Warden is a big loss, the Jaguars have the pieces to make a third successive trip to the playoffs. Seven seniors return with the experience to make that happen.

The defense is in good hands, with Jackie Sever, Jordan Ireland and Taylor Buckley back to protect sophomore goalie Ashley Bufano, who played well last season. Seniors Rachel Glenn, Macy Goldbach and Maddie Mansi will help fill the goalscoring burden.

Other potential contributors include Meghan Doherty, Madison Ireland, Emily Mathewson, Kara Nakrasius and Rachel Warden, the latter trio of whom brings experience from the team that won a PIAA lacrosse championship in the spring. A pair of sophomores, Jenna Buttermore and Britney Dragoni, figures to give coach Paul Costa options off the bench.

First-year coach Erika Baylis is inheriting a loaded squad with a bevy of seniors and juniors who’ve had a hand in helping Marple Newtown qualify for the District One Class AAA Tournament each of the last two years. The biggest returnee – and biggest question mark – is senior midfielder Holly Nicolardi, who missed last season with a knee injury. If she’s healthy, her physical presence and set-piece ability is a game-changer for the Tigers.

Joining her is veteran midfielder Brianna Ferrell and forwards Megan and Julia Lynch. The strength of the squad, though, could be at the back. Senior goalkeeper Amanda Goodyear improved rapidly as last season progressed. She’ll be buffeted by a veteran defense that includes Danielle Collins, Morgan McAndrews, Gemma Ciarrocchi and Carley Vegso.

A large percentage of the core of last season’s Springfield team returns, many with postseason experience from the Cougars’ successful lacrosse team. Forward Emily Santana, a prolific scorer in both sports, returns, as do Taylor Cutcliff, Noelle Morrissey, Katie Martin and Erin Gamble.

Potential new contributors include Erin Cutcliff, Olivia Little and Bridget Whitaker, while Shynelle Fry returns after missing last fall due to injury.

Hopes are high for first-year coach Mike Deleo at Penncrest, where he inherits a strong nucleus of a program under its third coach in three seasons.

Daniela Faux will anchor the defense with Mariah Kozub and Katie Arbogast, while creative playmaker Cassidy Moretti will have a number of options at her disposal, including Nicole and Olivia Mancarella. Newcomer Tara Higgins is expected to have an impact as well.

Last seasons’ 0-17-1 effort stung for Ridley. But that injury-blighted season means that plenty of girls got playing time, which could prove beneficial this season. Among the returnees are Abby Graeff, Lisa Gale, Alayna Pezick, Ashley Testa and Kim Eckenrode, as well as captains Jenna Catania and Sarah Lynch.

Several young players have impressed in camp, including Lexi Fredricks, Lexi Ranier, Liz Stretton and Kylie Stuhltrager.

After a 10-loss season in 2013, a senior-heavy corps returns to help Radnor rebound under new coach Jon Pierce. Senior forward Katy Junior, back from injury, and classmates Reilly Masterson and Megan Massimino will be key contributors. Junior Abby Lord will be the anchor of the defense, while newcomers Nulee Massaro and Chloe Allen should also play parts.

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