GIRLS SOCCER: Season preview: Chambersburg hopes experience can help in rugged...
CHAMBERSBURG >> Chambersburg girls soccer coach Eric Guyer is realistic enough to know that his team will not have an easy go in the Mid Penn Commonwealth Division, annually one of the strongest in the state.
"Technical ability is our Achilles heel," he said. "Everything we want to try to do builds off of that, but if we make untimely turnovers in our division, that will really hurt us. Most of the teams we play have very competitive programs where the girls know they have to work on their skills in the offseason just to win a position.
"What we need to rely on is team chemistry, and that's been a little tougher to come by this year."
Because school started early, Guyer estimates he'll lose between 10-12 practices.
"We weren't able to do as much team building as we usually do," he said, "and a lot of the time we spent on technical drills, we couldn't do. We had to pick our varsity and JV teams, and we had to get right into playing."
Senior Isabella Weigel said, "We play a tough schedule and it can be a little intimidating, but I think we should be able to stay with most teams."
One thing that will help Guyer and his team is that the Trojans do return some experience. As many as nine girls on this year's team started at one time or another last year. Several girls had their seasons cut short by injury, but are back.
"We have a lot of girls back with varsity experience, including some young girls who got playing time last year when others got injured," Guyer said. "And, as a whole, the team came to work in great condition. They understand the challenges they're about to face."
Another good thing is that several players are capable of playing multiple positions. Weigel and Liz Bishop could start at forward or midfield, and Bishop might even play some defense. Casi Pasierb will likely be in the midfield, but could switch to defense. And Jasmine Lemus could end up helping out at any position.
Chambersburg could start a midfield with all proven veterans – Pasierb, Weigel, Bishop and Claire Jacobs; although if any of them get switched out, Haley Frey and Brynn Vandegriff are available.
The defense will have three returners in goalkeeper Megan Cottingham and defenders Kendahl Seilhamer and Kendyl Grant. Ashlynn Swanger, Laura Ocker and Angel Jones could also play in the back.
"Last year I thought defense would be strong point for us, but it wasn't," Guyer said. "We don't have great speed back there, so we can't afford to get beat deep."
Of the 26 goals the Trojans scored in 2014 during a 4-14 season, 10 came from returning players.
Weigel scored three, and Cirsten Kelly notched four before missing the bulk of the season with a concussion. They will be joined by freshman Gabriella Lecuona, who has been a proven goal scorer in club ball and in middle school.
"I think we have a couple of new players that will benefit our team," Weigel said. "We have some quickness up top."
Guyer said, "Cirsten looks faster than ever this year, and Gabby is a player with a knack for scoring. She just needs to learn to move more without the ball to get her chances at this level.
"Last year I was worried about being able to score. This year, I think we have some scorers, but now it's just a matter of getting them the ball. We have to get better at transitioning the ball from defense to offense."
Jacobs said she has seen some positive things so far in practice.
"I think we've been willing to work together and learn from the criticism we get," Jacobs said. "The freshmen will help us; you can see they're putting in the work. I think if we work hard and don't give up, we can hang with the teams we play."
Guyer said, "We really had a patchwork team at the end last year because of the injuries. We have some quality pieces, but we just have to figure out the best places to put them."
NOTES >> The Trojans open Saturday with the Chambersburg Tournament ... James Buchanan plays Waynesboro at 9 a.m., followed by the host vs. Gettysburg at 10:30 ... The consolation game is at 2 and the final at 4.
Trojans at a glance
Coach: Eric Guyer, fourth year, 15-37-2 (.296).
Last year: 4-14 (2-12 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division).
Returning starters: Isabella Weigel (sr., mid/for, P.O. Honorable Mention, 3 goals, 4 assists), Claire Jacobs (sr., mid, P.O. Honorable Mention, 3 assists), Liz Bishop (sr., mid/for, 1, 4), Cari Pasierb (jr., mid/def, 1 assist), Kendahl Seilhamer (sr., def, 3 assists), Kendyl Grant (sr., def), Megan Cottingham (sr., goalkeeper), Cirsten Kelly (sr., for, 4 goals).
Other top players: Ashlynn Swanger (so., def), Laura Ocker (fr., def), Haley Frey (sr., mid, 1 goal), Brynn Vandegriff (so., mid), Jasmine Lemus (jr., utility, 1 goal), Gabriella Lecuona (fr., for), Angel Jones (jr., def).
Season opener: Saturday, in Chambersburg Tournament vs. Gettysburg, 10:30.
To view all of the girls soccer previews from Franklin and Fulton counties, visit GameTimePA.com.