Vito Urbano thinks his Mohonasen girls’ soccer team is ready for a makeover.
“The culture was always, `We’re supposed to lose,’” Urbano said. “They were always happy to keep games close.
“I hope we’re getting to the point where we can go into games expecting to win.”
Urbano is hoping a strong showing against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in last fall’s Class A quarterfinals was the game that put the program over the hump.
“The girls really played well,” said Urbano, whose team gave the Lady Spartans their toughest battle en route to a ninth straight championship. “They came away from that game feeling they could play with Burnt Hills. I hope they remember that feeling, and build from it.”
Numbers will always be a problem for the Lady Warriors, one of three Class A teams in the Suburban Council.
“That’s just the way it is,” Urbano said. “We’re a small school in the league, and we don’t have the number of players available like the big school do.”
What he does have is a pair of veteran leaders on the field in his senior captains — Gabby Esposito and Maddie Egan.
“They’ve been with me for three years, and they’re our leaders,” Urbano said. “We’ve got some other players back, but those two are the players we’re counting on.”
Esposito will be up front, with emerging standout Alexis Canavally, who Urbano brought up from the junior varsity before sectionals last fall.
Egan will team with other fellow varsity returners Taylor Wood and Alexis Dean in the midfield. Alexandra Reihs, Maria DeMarco and Brianna Volens are the experienced players in the back.
Mohonasen got an unexpected lift when sophomore Saeeda Abul-Aziz had a change of heart and returned to play goal.
“She was going to concentrate on basketball, but she showed up the first week of practice, and we’re glad to have her,” said Urbano. “She gives us confidence back there.”
Mohonasen will see Suburban heavyweights Bethlehem and Guilderland twice again this year. But Urbano thinks his team will approach those games with a new attitude.
“We did well today against Bethlehem,” he said after the teams played for 50 minutes at Saturday’s Shen Scramble. “It was only a scrimmage, but Bethlehem is always strong, and for us to more than hold our own, I think it’s something the girls can take into the league season.
“The Burnt Hills game is still on their minds. When we talked about the game, they felt it was a game we could have won.
“That’s the type of thing I want them to remember. That they were right there in that game with a team that has dominated Class A.”