Losing an All-American striker, a starting goalkeeper, a group of hard working midfielders and a solid defender is usually enough to ensure a rebuilding year.
That’s not in the plans of the Niskayuna girls’ soccer team.
“Obviously, we lost a very strong attacking player in Meghan Doyle,” said Niskayuna coach Bryce Colby of his All-American, now at Notre Dame. “We’re also replacing some other key pieces from a pretty successful team.”
The Lady Silver Warriors fell one goal short of getting to the Class AA state semifinals last fall, dropping a 1-0 decision to Section III champion Cicero North Syracuse in the regional final.
Niskayuna’s top returning players are seniors Sophia Constantine and Stephanie Tate, and 11th-grader Marika Contompasis.
Constantine and Tate were part of a strong back four last fall. Contompasis became a dangerous second option up front, forcing opposing teams to take some of their focus off Doyle.
Constantine will play a different role this year, as Colby has moved her into the central midfield.
“It was out of necessity,” said Colby. “I needed someone with the physical ability to hold the ball, then get us into the attack.”
Constantine’s ability to drive the ball equally well with either foot also played a part in the move.
“Sophia’s so strong with either foot, she can get the ball out wide to either side,” he said. “And from midfield, she’s more than capable of hitting the goal, too.”
“I kinda like it,” said Constantine of her new role. “I know he wants me to get the ball out to the flanks, and I can do that.
“It’s going to be a little strange, though. I’ve been a defender, so that was always my mind set. Now, I can get forward more.”
Tate is going to miss Constantine in the back, but understands how the move will better the team.
“She’s going to be good in the middle of the field,” said Tate, a second-team Suburban Council all-star in 2013. “It’s going to be different without her playing in the back, though.”
Tate will be busy enough as she gets the other defenders working as a unit in front of a new goaltender.
“That’s going to be my job, to make sure we remain strong,” Tate said. “We’ve got some good players who are going to be have bigger roles.”
Hannah Munro will be another key component of the offense, that will feature Contompasis.
“Marika really came along last year,” said Colby. “She’s going to be a big player for us this year.”