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Downriver League girls' soccer preview PHOTOS

  • Chelsea Stefanic (2) and the Carlson Marauders were a feisty opponent in the Downriver League last season. Stefanic, now a junior, plans on much of the same this season.
  • Laekyn Jaciuk (15) made a name for herself as a sophomore by scoring 26 goals and recording 16 assists for Anderson.
  • Lydia Lyczynski is back on the field this year for the Truman Cougars.
  • Carlson's Lauren Poslaiko is one of this year's key returners for the Marauders.
If the names on the Trenton girls’ soccer roster look familiar, it’s because they are all veteran faces.

The Trojans return 15 players to the pitch this season, including six starters.

After losing star players in the likes of Natalie Righetti and Megan Benoist last season, third-year Coach Mike Hatfield says his girls will take on new responsibilities in 2014.

“It’s not so much the newcomers, but the new roles these girls have to take,” he said. “I am excited to watch these girls grow from last season and be key members of the success.”

Three seniors will help lead the Trojans this season; Caroline Hatty, Samantha Vandenberg and Hailey Osbourne.

Returning to the starting backline will be Alexia Moody, Kayle Czarnik and Brooke Teska.

Back for their sophomore seasons, Maddie Menna and Nadia Kurtzhals will help boost the offense after freshmen seasons of 15 and eight goals respectively.

The Trojans are coming off a season that saw the team win its third straight district title before being knocked out by state runner-up Birmingham Marion.

What has Hatfield most excited is the possibilities of his team.

“This team is returning a lot of letter winners, so there is a lot of young experience,” he said. “What I really want to see if these girls grow as players and leaders. The skill is spread out and a lot of players have a lot of potential of surprising themselves and everybody else.

“That will be great to watch all year, seeing young ladies gain a lot of confidence and belief in themselves.”

Hatfield says as always, his expectations are to be at least as competitive as the 2013 season.

“As always, I expect to match or do better every season, but what coach does not have that expectation,” he said. “My main expectation is for this team to grow and get better all season. We are very young this year with a lot of skill.

“So I know that I can keep the same expectation as the previous seasons; this season will just be a different patch. I want these girls to take charge of their own success and the team’s success.”

The Trojans got started on their goals five months ago when they committed to an offseason of fitness training.

“This is a very committed group and we are excited to hit the field,” Hatfield said.



Woodhaven

The Woodhaven girls’ soccer team may spend some of the season watching over their shoulders.

The Warriors will be watching out for other teams chasing after them in the race to the top of the league as Woodhaven goes for its sixth straight Downriver League title.

After being knocked out in last year’s district play by a tough Saline team, the Warriors are back on the field with a new coach at the reins; Scott Hoye.

Hoye says the girls are excited for league play and are really looking forward to getting back to the action against DRL rivals, especially Trenton.

Key returners for the team include; Allie May, Allison Manning, Cassidy Murray, Anja Plaumann, Chelsea DeBoutte, Keri Kilgore, Miranda Ratusznik, Sydney Lemelin, Nicole Losek, Kendra Cook and Abbey Lorenz.

Newcomers for the 2014 outing are; Christina Cobetto, Erin Dolce, Jenna Drumm, Kaylen Ruddell, Kaitlyn Repp, Katlyn Varney, and Kerstyn Williams.

Hoye says his squad had a great tryout and has looked solid so far in trainings.

The team’s goals this year are high; win the Downriver League, get past Saline and advance into regionals.

“With that said, we realize our first priority is to continually get better with each game and take one game at a time,” Hoye said. “Our rivals in the Downriver League also have lofty goals and continually are getting better each year. Winning the league will be very difficult.”

As the season gets underway, Hoye says he is looking forward to the girls’ development in terms of ball possession. So far, he says the team has done a tremendous job of maintaining the ball and working combinations within trainings.

“Now, we need to transfer what is taking place within our trainings to the field,” he said. “If we are able to continue the strides we have made early this off-season into our regular season, then many of our goals will be realized.”

The Warriors are slated to open the season against New Boston Huron on March 26. They will play in the Ladywood Invitational on March 29 and open league play April 4 against Carlson.







Anderson

The Anderson girls’ soccer team has a few more members than normal, but with a good core of veterans coming back, Coach Larry Lankford is excited.

The Titans have 16 field players and two keepers this season and nine veterans coming back from last year’s squad including four starters.

Key returnees include Laekyn Jaciuk, Andrea Thornsberry, Jenn Ibarra and Cynthia Konan.

Last year as a sophomore, Jaciuk was team MVP with 26 goals and 16 assists and was named to the All Downriver League team, the All District team and the All Region tem.

Konan was key to the defensive core and was Anderson’s defensive player of the year. She was also named to the All Downriver League team.

Konan is a four-year starter and will be joined by veteran junior Hallie Tingstad on defense.

“We’re going to have to count on the fact that I have two All District defenders and three starters coming back on defense,” Lankford said. “They’re (Konan, Tingstad) rocks back there.

“Those two just coming back on defense in the middle is gonna save a lot of shots alone.”

Lankford said his keepers are young but are learning quickly and coming along well.

On the offensive side of things, Lankford is equally as happy.

Thornsberry has gotten stronger every year and Ibara brings hard work and a good shot to the field.

When Konan and Tingstad come up, they also have strong shots that will help boost the offense.

Lankford expects the size of his girls to help the team.

“We’re gonna have a lot of size in the middle of the field; it’s gonna help us,” he said. “We really are gonna have a good size and a strong team and it’s going to boil down to how we play against the stronger teams.

“I wanna be the team that runs al 80 minutes and wears other teams out. That’s our goal and we’ll have to see how the girls do. We wanna run and run and run some more.”

A big highlight for Lankford this season was Ann Arbor Huron agreeing to come down and play the team.

The Titans will take on Ann Arbor the game before they face Woodhaven and Lankford says the game will set the tone for some league matches.

In the past two seasons Anderson’s only league losses have been to Trenton and Woodhaven and Lankford said his team will focus on staying at the top of the highly competitive Downriver League.

“If we can get over that hurdle, who knows,” Lankford said. “When I address them about the league, I tell them we’ve gotta be prepared.

“Carlson’s gonna be strong, Woodhaven on paper looks to be the strongest. Trenton has a lot of good, young talent and they work hard.”

Trenton and Carlson return veteran coaches as well and could prove tough opponents.

“They’re very good coaches and they always have their teams ready to play,” Lankford said. “It just depends on how we play against those other teams.

“I’d like to think with my returning group with the experience we have coming back, we should be in the mix.”



Carlson

It was an interesting end for the Carlson seniors last season.

The 9 girls played in their last high school game just 90 minutes before they walked across the stage at graduation. The aggravating spring rain showers had delayed the game and the reschedule was set for graduation day, leaving the seniors wondering what would have happened if it had been played during the original day. The Marauders lost to Trenton in that district semifinal game.

Fast forward almost a year and the Marauders are full of new faces but Coach Steve Briggs is not worried about the talent.

Key returnees for the squad include seniors Kristina Torres and Paige Blakeslee, junior Chelsea Stefanic and sophomore Lauren Poslaiko.

The young talent comes in the form of nine sophomores and two freshmen, some of them also returnees. Young players who stood out during tryouts for Briggs were sophomores Jenni Simmons and Jordyn Francis and freshman Brittany Wenzel.

“Personally, I am looking forward to watching the young talent within the team work together to achieve great things,” Briggs said. “This group of young players are the future of Marauder’s soccer (and) they hope to help the returning players do everything as well and possibly even better than last year.”

Rounding out senior class will be Samantha Chuey and Melissa Moninger and the juniors will be Bethany Flores and Hannah Maxe.

The eight-player sophomore class will be rounded out by Allie Kaminske, Madison Shivel, Jessica Dillon, Michaela French, Madison Brekke and Katie Oeffinger. Athena Grias rounds out the freshmen class.

With so many young faces, Carlson will be looking to take everything one day at a time and to make each day better than the day before for the 2014 season.

“If we can all do that within the team, we should be proud of what we do,” Briggs said. “

The Marauders’ first goal is to win the Downriver League which Briggs says will be tougher than many think with new coaches and the talent in the area.

After that, Carlson will look to move past the district round, further into the state playoffs.



Allen Park

Experience will be key for the Allen Park girls’ soccer team this season.

The Jags are under a new coach, but Justin Hunter is excited about the possibilities. The team is upperclassmen heavy with quite a few three and four year lettermen.

In fact, five of the team’s seven seniors have been on the squad for their entire career.

Hunter says Katlyn Armstrong will be a defensive rock for the squad among the senior pack and said Natasha Sanchez also looks to be a leader on the field.

A big returnee comes in the form of junior Rachel Caswell. Caswell is coming off a fall season with the football team where she the team’s go-to kicker for field goals and extra points.

Hunter is also excited about the team’s only freshman, Natalie Lovasz and expects a strong season from her.

“(She’s) a freshman forward who is tall, fast and has a pretty high soccer IQ,” he said.

Hunter is still learning about the team, but says the one thing he does know is the team has talent all over the field and he has hopes of improving off of last season’s fifth place Downriver League finish.

The Jags’ season opener against Bedford High School was originally scheduled for Monday but inclement weather cancelled the game. They will open their season next week jumping right into a busy schedule.

On April 2 they travel to Kennedy. The following night they will host Bedford in the makeup game and the night after will travel to Melvindale.



Truman

It is going to be a year of rebuilding for the Truman girls soccer team this season after losing a big core of last year’s squad.

The Cougars lost six seniors to graduation, including standout Emily Theison.

Despite the loses, Coach Franco Antonnicola says his team will return some important pieces to the roster.

Key retuners for Truman include; Clare Ciarlino, Anna Ciarlino, Kristen Bailey, Savannah Novakowski and Lydia Lyczynski.

Antonnicola is also looking forward to having newcomers Isabel Sanchez and Tiffany Kitching join the squad and says both are gifted players.

“This will be a challenging new season for us,” Antonnicola said. “Our goal is to be able to compete against everyone.”



Melvindale

It is going to be a rebuilding year for the Cardinals but third year Coach James Bradley is as excited as ever about his team.

Melvindale lost 11 players to graduating last season, but through the spring conditioning, Bradley has seen dedicated and work that has him optimistic.

Only three girls from last year’s squad return to the pitch this season in the form of Alyson Bradley, Chelsea Worrell and Miriam Eguia.

“I expect them to lead the team that will inevitably be full of underclassmen,” Bradley said.

Alyson Bradley will be possibly stepping up this season to midfield from her former position at forward. Worrell was a strong midfielder last year and Bradley says he expects her to play bigger minutes.

“I’m just excited to see how hard this team is willing to work towards being as good as they can possibly be,” Bradley said. “The girls are ready for this winter to change and are excited to get to work.”



Lincoln Park

Nathan Chatfield is yet another new Downriver League coach to girls’ soccer this season and he is already excited with the work of his team so far this spring.

“My coaching staff and I have been very excited to see the girls react in a very positive way to our demanding style,” he said. “We are still a young and inexperienced team, but we’re laying the groundwork for success both on and off the field.”

After being eliminated in last year’s district final, the Rails have several returning players who have led the way for the underclassmen during training theis spring.

Chatfield says the league will be hard to predict but expects his team to be prepared both physically and tactically for each match.

“We will defend and we will make the most of our opportunities going forward,” he said. “Our goal this year is to get back to the district final and make the most of our opportunities in that game.”

Last Updated: 3/26/2014 3:49:07 PM EST

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