Defense is key to WLHS girls' soccer

By Kathryn Elliott - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Mon., Oct. 24, 2011
Windsor Locks keeper Chelsea Santos makes a goal kick to advance the ball up the field. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.
Windsor Locks keeper Chelsea Santos makes a goal kick to advance the ball up the field. Photos by Kathryn Elliott.

Windsor Locks High School Athletic Director Jim O’Brien is back for his eighth season as head coach for the girls’ soccer team.  Assisted by coach Paul Lepak, O’Brien and his team of 40 talented young women return from a 3-13 year in 2010, with hopes of playing at the state level.

“Our overall goal is to make the state tournament by maintaining a practice environment where everyone is pushing themselves and each other,” O’Brien said. “In our league, there are no easy games. We could potentially lose to every team, but we could also defeat every team. Avon, Suffield, Granby and Ellington are the strongest teams on paper.”

Seniors’ Francesca Gentile (C), Morgan Burke (C), Maggie Sayers (C), Kasia Wujec and Mariah Brown set the bar for the younger players. “Our captains have certainly taken on that role,” coach said. “However, other players like Chelsea Santos, have also stepped up.”

Team keeper, Santos is a defensive force. “Soccer is my life,” she said. “I started at 5 years old. My Dad played in high school, so he was a big part of my decision to play. As a team, we have improved a lot over last year, become closer, and we’re ready to go.”

“Our defense – led by Chelsea in goal, Maggie Sayers as sweeper, and Katelyn D’Appollonio as central marking back –  is our team’s strength.” O’Brien said. “Our ability to score goals is a question mark we hope to answer.”

Sayers began playing soccer at the age of 4. “I play, soccer, basketball, softball – pretty much everything,” she joked. As senior class president, she knows the importance of determination and hard work. “We have grown up a lot as a team this season,” Sayers said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to put it all together.”

O’Brien takes pride in the caliber of student athletes on his team. “We rarely have any issues with academic eligibility, as our kids are very conscientious in the classroom as well.”

A strong fan base supports the Lady Raiders. “We do not have a formal booster club, but parents are very supportive of their daughters,” the coach said.

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