HOOSICK, N.Y. >> The Hoosick Falls girls soccer program's leading scorer, Jordyn Haynes, graduated after an amazing career where she scored more than 130 goals, but for coach Tom Husser — back after two seasons away — is more worried about the three of four starting defenders that graduated. Overall, six starters are gone from a year ago.
"Look at the goals we lost, you had players like Rachael Lewsey and Meg Flynn that controlled the middle and our goalie, Jayde Tutunjian, all graduate," Husser said. "I'm definitely a defensive coach, if the other team can't score, you can't lose."
Husser was the Panthers' coach until 2013 and had won state championships in 2005, 2011 and 2012 before taking on duties as the school's athletic director. After Brittany Pine ran the team for the past two years, she stepped away and Husser returned. Last year with Pine, the Panthers went 13-1 and tied for the Wasaren League title with Mechanicville. They finished 13-3-1 overall in Class B.
"The kids all know me, but none of them have played for me," Husser said. "The kids are excited through, they are coming to practice every day with ideas for practice, it's been really good."
The Panthers have five seniors, including four returners: Ashley Foster, Cassie Crucetti, Maddy Atherton, Anna Brewer and Sydney Miller.
"Sydney has been a big surprise so far, I had never seen her in goal, she didn't play a lot of soccer in the summer, she played softball instead," Husser said. "She's athletic, has good hands and she's stepped right into a leadership role."
The junior class is also strong, with Darian Morgan and Taylor Mann up top and Angela Gonzalez in the middle. Sydney Eggsware and Sam Flohr will be in defense. Eggsware is the only one of the four from last season to return.
"People will know who Darian and Taylor are by the end of the year," Husser said. "And Angela has some of the best ball skills we've ever had in this program. I think she's the best center-mid in the [Wasaren] League."
Three sophomores will also be a big part of the Panthers' plans this season, including defenseman Grace Wysocki, midfielder Josie Ryan and Skyelyn Haynes, in her first varsity campaign.
"Grace will be taking over where her sister [Anna] played and she's even got her [uniform] number," Husser said.
Two new players transferred from Mount Anthony in sisters Alex and Phoebe Thompson. Alex is a junior and Phoebe is an eighth grader.
"They are fitting in so well with the other players, they've only been here for a little while and they've said how the team has made them feel welcome, so that's great to see," Husser said.
The season begins on Sept. 1 at home under the lights on the football field against one of the new opponents for the Wasaren League this year, Waterford. The Fordians have come into the Wasaren League this year as Granville exited for the Adirondack League. All of the Wasaren League teams are Class C except for the Panthers and Tamarac.
"I think Waterford is in for a little bit of culture shock this year," Husser said. "The two favorites are Mechanicville and Tamarac, with us, Stillwater and Cambridge fighting up there."