Suburban Council defenses had their hands full last year, trying to contain a bevy of prolific goal scorers.
Five of those top scorers have graduated, including league MVP Whitney Frary of Niskayuna, leaving SC coaches looking for replacements.
“We’re fortunate to have a good core of players back,” said Eagles coach Tom Rogan, who has proficient goal scorers Kritina Maksuti and Kaitlyn Martin back from last year’s team that went unbeaten, losing a penalty-kick tiebreaker in the regional final. “We lost seven starters, but the experienced players that are back know what we’ve accomplished the past three or four years, and their goal is to continue that.”
The Eagles have not lost a Suburban Council game in 21⁄2 seasons, and have been to the large-school sectional final seven times this decade, with two titles and a shared championship.
Maksuti (second-team all-state last year as a sophomore), Martin, midfielders Kristie Link and Kristina Maksuti, midfielder/central defender Anna Gray and defender Michelle Primomo give the Eagles as much experience as any team in the SC.
“It will be a battle,” said Rogan, whose teams have lost only eight league games, and have amassed 121 wins overall in the last seven years. “The league is strong again this year.
“Saratoga, Ballston Spa, Shenendehowa, Niskayuna, Shaker . . . They’re all good teams.”
As if normal attrition through graduation wasn’t enough, Shenendehowa lost talented striker Karly DeSimone to a knee injury this summer. DeSimone’s second major knee injury in two seasons wiped out her season, one year after she rehabbed on offseason knee injury, and returned for the final month of the season.
“It’s so unfortunate,” said Shenendehowa coach Holli Mulholland. “She worked so hard to come back last year, and to have this happen.”
The offense will now largely depend on returning all-state player Molly Popolizio, sophomore Katie Trainor and freshman Kristin Connors.
Soph Erin Luibrand and senior Sarah Bassett will play big roles in the midfield.
Niskayuna is second only to Bethlehem in recent postseason success, as Bryce Colby’s teams got to the state semis in 2006, and reached the Section II Class AA title game the last two years.
“We’re struggling to find a goal scorer,” said Colby of his effort to replace Frary. “We’re going with a lot of inexperienced, younger girls up front.”
The other two-thirds of the field shouldn’t be a problem for the Silver Warriors, although their total of two three-year players is the fewest in recent years.
Amelia Esposito returns in goal, with Stephanie Maslyn, Kerri Valero and Schuyler Archambeault returning on the back line.
Juniors Meghan Mosch, Stacey Sylvetsky and Katie Cascino will anchor the midfield.
Saratoga Springs beat Shenendehowa in both of their SC meetings last year, before losing to the Plainsmen in the sectional quarterfinals in coach Adrienne Dannehy’s first season.
“We lost nine seniors, and have 10 new kids on the team, seven of them freshmen,” said Dannehy.
The top returning player for the Blue Streaks is all-stater Liz Boyer.
Guilderland coach Barb Newton has only seven seniors on her roster, and is looking for the underclassmen to contribute.
“We don’t have one person we’re going to rely on for scoring,” said Newton. “We’re going to have to spread it around, but that might make us a stronger team.”
Senior Jenna Crupi and sophs Marissa Cubillos and Michaela Maybee are in that group. Seniors Marissa Page and Erin Kelly will likely split time in goal.
Goalkeeper Renee Cairns gives Ballston Spa a chance to be in every game. Defenders Annie Czelusniak and Amanda Callanan help in the back, with Alaina Greco and Rosie Nowhitney in the midfield.
Shaker’s biggest problem will be replacing leading scorer Caitlin Cahalan.
The Blue Bison have size and athletic ability. Four-year player Becca Pilla, three-year varsity player Morgan Berry and forward Alyssa Plue are back, as is goalkeeper Rhiannon Spencer.
Schenectady returns Erin Macbeth as it tries to end Amsterdam’s 10-year run of Big 10 titles.
Albany will also contend in the Big 10, with Katie Michaelis, Alex Huss and Serafine Mattie-Lownes giving the Falcons depth up front.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will use its SC schedule to prepare for a run at a fifth consecutive Class A title.
“We’re trying a little different system this season,” said Spartans coach Brian Bold, whose chief tasks are replacing leading scorer Georgina Farrow and goalkeeper Teegan Kelly. “We have the abililty to do it.”
Seniors Nicole Collins and Monica Wolf, sophomores Alex Lucier and Jessica Lyden and freshmen Jillian Beatty and Skye Kaler are part of the wave of players the Spartans will push forward.
Senior Amanda Malone and 11th-grader Sarah Glowa will anchor the back line in front of goalkeeper Emily McNutt.
Scotia-Glenville returns a veteran team as it shoots for a repeat Foothills Council title.
“We’re a strong senior team,” said Tartans coach Lise Williams. “It will be a disappointment if we don’t have a good season.”
Goalie Kylah Rodd and defenders Makala Gatta, Caitlyn Trepess, Macee Maddock and Jess Presti are back from a unit that put up 15 shutouts and gave up just nine goals last year as the Tartans went 12-0-2 in the league and 15-2-3 overall.
Lansingburgh of the Colonial Council returns league all-star picks Sarah Cipperly and Katie Foley.
The Class B postseason promises to be interesting, with Schalmont, Stillwater, Mechanicville, Schuylerville and Tamarac joining defending champ Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk.
Schalmont took the Colonial Council title last year, and returns seniors Laura Snowden and Kristina Strang on offense, Kelsey Russell in back and Michelle Cuomo in goal. Megan Strijek joined Snowden and Strang with 10-plus goals last year.
“We’re young this year,” said Sabres coach Angelo Caschera. “We’ve only got four seniors, so we’re carrying six sophomores.”
The Sabres will be in a division with Mechanicville, Albany Academy, Cobleskill-Richmondville and Watervliet. Underclassmen Kaitlyn Mulvaney and Bridget Malicki give Academy a strong 1-2 scoring punch.
Ravena, Cohoes, Lansingburgh, Holy Names and Voorheesville are in the other division.
Mechanicville won its division last year, and played Schalmont to a scoreless draw in the season-ending crossover. Aubrey Moore, Abby Maiello, Nicole Manupella, Tori Bredenberg and Bonnie Krasuski all earned postseason league honors for the Red Raiders last year.
Ravena returns goalie Teagan Waddingham, midfielder Ashley TenEyck and forward Emily Scott.
Jackie Blake’s final season at Stillwater could be a memorable one, as the Warriors return eight seniors, led by reigning Wasaren League Player of the Year Amanda Hathaway.
Also back for Stillwater, which is playing on a new turf surface this season, are Wasaren first-teamers Abbey Hanehan (forward/midfield) and Lizz Morris (goalkeeper).
Tamarac’s veterans include Julia Sloboda, goalie Courtney Ryan and Emily Mehner. High-scoring Courtney Pierce returns for Schuylerville.
Fort Plain brings back all-state player Jenna Stever and Kelsey Logan among a group that went 13-3 in the Western Athletic Conference, and made the Class C semifinals.
Middleburgh got to the “C” final a year ago, and returns Amber Reinheimer and Kelsey Roney. Goalie Rebecca Graudons will be a key for Mayfield.