ARLINGTON -- Arlington coach Dan Wood stood on the pitch at the Arlington Rec Park, giving instructions to members of his team during their second week of practice.
With the start of their season fast approaching, the Arlington girls soccer team has one thing on its mind.
"[Our goal is to] win a state championship," said senior and team captain Molly Elwell. "That’s number one."
While a state championship may be the goal, there will be both old, familiar foes -- as well as a new one -- that will pose the biggest obstacle to the Eagles’ championship hopes in Division IV.
"Probably ... it will be Proctor and MSJ (Mount St. Joseph Academy)," Wood said. "MSJ has never been before, not in soccer. This will be the first year. [Black River], they were very good last year, but they lost quite a few players. But, they’ll be one of the better teams in our division."
The Eagles have numbers on their side, boasting the largest number of team members (25) in Wood’s four years as the varsity coach.
"Usually it’s 16 to 18," Wood said. "So, we’ve been kind of thin on numbers [in the past], but this year we won’t be."
What’s more, they have a solid nucleus returning.
"Our whole team’s coming back. We got the same 11 starters that we had last year," Wood said. "Everybody already knows their job ... Molly and Julia (Lacoste) will be strong up front and Brooke Hawley in the midfield and then Hailey (Davis) and Becca Solari in the middle on defense.
Lacoste was the leading scorer in 2013, with 12 goals and five assists as the Eagles finished 6-10 overall.
The familiarity of the players with one another is one that both captains -- Elwell and Lacoste -- feel will be beneficial once the season gets underway.
"We’ve all played together for a while so our connection with everyone is really good. We all communicate well and work together well," Lacoste said. "We all work well together. We’ve been playing together for a long time."
Wood expressed similar sentiment.
"It can only help," Wood said. "They were all starters last year on a team that was [6-10], which was terrible for us, but of the games we lost besides one they were all very close. We got our whole team back. So, we know our opponents fairly decent, what they’re going to have coming back."
Though they are only a couple of weeks into practice, both Wood and Elwell have said they are encouraged by how the team is coming together.
"We’ve been working a lot over the summer, playing a lot of pickup games and I think that’s definitely shown in these days of preseason," said Elwell. "We’ve been working hard It’s a good connection this year. I think it will be different than last year."
Hannah Andrew, Olivia Andrews, Katie Berger, Emily Blum, Avery Bucchieri, Elizabeth Fischer, Aimee Frank, Amelia Gingue, Mackenzie Gross, Xandria Hoyt, Jaime Keel, Riley Lane, Michaela Mattison, Sophie Pedermont, Grace Smith, Bailey Therriault, Brooke Therriault, and Whitney Walsh round out the roster.
The Eagles will open their season on Sept. 2 at MSJ. The team’s home opener will be on Thursday, Sept. 4, against Bellows Falls at the Arlington Rec Park.
The Eagles cross-country team has a new coach in Thom Powers, but some familiar faces returning from last year’s six-person squad.
The top runner back is sophomore Jena Stabb, who was Arlington’s top individual at the state meet, finishing the race in 27 minutes, 51.6 seconds.
Amber Welch and Bhumika Patel graduated, but juniors Emily Lampoon and Janessa Hoyt and senior Celia Smith return.
Powers takes the reigns from Bianca Hoose, who led the Eagle track and XC teams for the past three seasons.
The Eagles finished 11th in Division III at the Vermont state meet at Thetford, just two points short of ninth.