Veteran group ready to take next step

ARLINGTON — There's a change in leadership for the Arlington girls soccer team this fall, but really, it's new boss, same as the old boss.

Aaron Wood takes over the head coach's spot in place of his father, Dan, who piloted the Eagles for the past six years. But Dan is around too, he's now Aaron's assistant.

"It's been good the first few days, not much has changed," said Aaron Wood. "Dan and I worked hand-in-hand last year, so it was an easy transition."

One of the reasons that the transition was easier is that many of the team members played summer league soccer.

"The girls have come in ready to work this year, which has been nice," Wood said. "We had a really good summer program, good attendance. All the girls played two days a week minimum. Thursday was the [first day of practice], but it definitely didn't feel like it, which is a good thing."

The Eagles bring back a plethora of veteran options into this season, with five-year player Riley Lane the lone graduate.

"We're returning nine starters from last year and seven that have played [varsity] two years ago, it's a very veteran team," Wood said. "We have Aimee Frank and Grace Smith in the middle of the defense and Jamie Keel, those three will line up in the middle for us on any given day. Then we have someone like Xandria Hoyt up front."

Shaana Staab will be in net, coming off of a good season in 2016.

"She's the best goalie in the state in Division IV," Wood said. "Last year, she made a couple of huge saves for us in the playoffs to keep us in games. It's her second full season and she'll be good for us between the pipes."

The Eagles have six seniors this season, all of whom have been with the Eagles' varsity for all four years.

They've also got a strong sophomore class, including Tess Belnap and Haley Mattison, both of whom are going into their third season with the Eagles' varsity.

Arlington starts the season with a pair of games on the road up in division, against Otter Valley and Leland & Gray before facing West Rutland in the home opener.

"It's a tough start to the season and then the John Werner tournament will be good because Long Trail will be good again," Wood said. "Obviously, we have the Proctors and West Rutlands. I think we have the best division top to bottom and I've very excited to see where we stack up. The kids have to set the tone, the coach can only do so much."


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