With core group returning, MAU girls soccer optimistic
BENNINGTON — There's no shortage of offensive options for the Mount Anthony girls soccer this season.
Out of the 41 goals the Patriots scored last year, 35 of them return — led by Jordan Mattison, who had 16, and Antonia Pellon, who had eight tallies.
But despite the loss of a couple of key seniors on defense and in goal, it might be that side of the ball with the most experience.
"We're in a good place. Even though we lost a couple of key players all over the field, last year we had some extra starters, but you can only start so many," said MAU coach Mark Boudreau, who is 59-44-4 in his seven seasons leading the Patriots. "So on our defense, we actually have four returning starters that didn't always start. We probably had six that could start last year, our defense is still our strength."
Last year, the Patriots finished 10-6, beating Rutland in an unforgettable playdown before falling to Colchester in the Division I quarterfinal.
"We're starting off as well as we ended last year," Boudreau said. "We added five new players that have experience already and the chemistry is great. They came into practice with good conditioning, so it's about fine tuning."
Having the returning firepower is good, but even more being a cohesive unit.
"They know what to do and they have a feel for where they are [on the field] and here's where we start," Boudreau said. "This is the best shooting team in my time coaching, they are good strikers and we have a lot of girls with a nose for the goal. You can't teach that."
Other goal scorers from a season ago back for the Patriots are Rebecca Crosier (five goals), Allie Bullett (three goals) and Keana Gauthier (three goals).
"We can shoot from anywhere, now it's getting it in the net," Boudreau said.
Defensively, MAU graduated Sam White and Isabelle Small and their goalkeeper in Madison Breese.
But with starters Emma Salem, Rachael Jones and Erin Farrell returning, along with Ella and Chloe Cichanowski, Boudreau said it will be a strong point.
"Overall, we're stronger as a team top to bottom," Boudreau said. "I have 15 starters but I don't have 15 positions for them. We can plug in for anything. It may be a different look, but no drop-off."
Sophomore Lexi Gerow will take over in goal with Breese graduating and Boudreau said she's put a lot of time in over the off-season to take over the reins.
"She's a year-long player, plays in the Albany area and puts a lot of time in it," Boudreau said. "She's got confidence beyond a sophomore, she's able in there. There will be growing pains as a new starter, watching it last year is a lot different than playing. But she has great chemistry with the team, she works hard, has natural ability and good teaching. I'm confident she's where she need to be and she'll get better through the year."
The Patriots start their season on Aug. 31 against Essex. It's the start of a tough stretch that has them traveling to play the Hornets, then hosting Wahconah in the opening round of the Lady Patriot Classic. In the second tournament game, they'd face Burr and Burton or Brattleboro. After that, they host Champlain Valley, a team that went undefeated and won the D-I title, on Sept. 14.
"I'm realistic with our program, but I want two things: I want to be the team no one wants to play and I want to be able to walk off every field knowing we gave teams a good game," Boudreau said. "We're going to get beat and if it's because another team is better, that's all I can ask of my team."
Roster: Meghan Barilone, Haley Breese, Alyssa Bullett, Chloe Cichanowski, Ella Cichanowski, Rebecca Crosier, Karsen Dunican, Erin Ferrell, Keana Gauthier, Lexi Gerow, Kylee Hall, Alexis Harrington, Breanna Hudson, Rachael Jones, Grace Mahar, Jordan Mattison, Antonia Pellon, Alexis Robie, Emma Salem, Dominique Dease.
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