Young Long Trail squad hopes to develop in 2019
DORSET — Following an 8-9 campaign in 2018, where the Mountain Lions made a trip to the Division IV state semifinals, Long Trail's 2019 group boasts a mix of experience and youth.
Coming into the season, the Mountain Lions lost four seniors, but return their top goal-scorer from last season, Molly Sanderson, who had 10 goals in 2018.
Sanderson is the lone Long Trail player to score through two games this year, scoring two times in the team's opener against White River Valley.
"When [Molly] gets the ball on her foot, she's so dangerous," said Long Trail coach Kevin Murphy. "She's so fast and her footwork is tremendous. She is so strong with both feet. I think her left foot is even better than her right, even though it's not her dominant foot."
Kathryn Dugan, Audra Marcus and Charleigh Tifft all played major roles on the Mountain Lions last season and return as well.
"They've been working hard to create an inclusive atmosphere for the young kids," Murphy said. "They know they need to get everything they can from the young kids. When they're on the field, they're talking to the girls and trying to make players aware of situations and what they should be doing.
Dugan played mostly in the midfield last year, but has moved to defense a good amount this year to help lead that group.
The Mountain Lions have seven freshmen on their roster, so mixing in the veterans across the field to bring those players along is essential.
Dugan's move to defense is out of necessity for Long Trail.
"We don't have a lot girls who are familiar with playing defense," Murphy said. "We've played her at midfield, stopper and sweeper so far in the two games that we've had."
The injury bug has hurt the Mountain Lions early in the season. Five girls had to come off the field in Friday's game against Windsor from injury and three girls had to do so in their opener.
This has forced some of their younger players into larger roles.
One of the freshman who is playing a big role for Long Trail is Kailyn Ploski-Skinner, who has taken over in goal.
"[Kailyn] has done a great job. She's aggressive to the ball and that's helped in our defensive breakdowns that she's been able to come out and kick the ball away or jump on it. She's saved our bacon many times there," Murphy said.
Lydia George and Harlow Quail have both played major roles as freshman as well.
George got her hand stepped on during Friday's game, so Murphy is hoping that injury isn't too serious.
George has played at left wing, fullback, midfield and sweeper at different times, so that could be a big loss.
Sitting at 0-2, Long Trail has tough matchups against Bellows Falls and Arlington coming up.
Long Trail hopes to see its team develop throughout the year and be ready to make another run in the D-IV tournament.
"We want to continue to develop a better understanding of playing the game, so that by the time we get to the playoffs, they'll be able to capture that moment," Murphy said.
Roster: Kathryn Dugan, Nancy Dominic, Audra Marcus, Maya Marcy, Abby Mega-Coombs, Lucinda Monder, Molly Sanderson, Charleigh Tifft, Kassidy Brooks, Anna Mathewson, Myra Aldanondo, Lydia George, Adriana Grabach, Vanessa Kusel, Grace Porter, Harlow Quail, Kailyn Ploski-Skinner.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.