Returning conference players will strengthen SHS girls' soccer
By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Stafford - posted Thu., Sep. 20, 2012
Stafford High School girls' varsity soccer coach Steve Budaj said that the loss of five seniors last year will impact the team. “We lost a stopper back and sweeper back – so the center part of your defense,” he said.
With only seven other athletes able to bring defense experience to the field, Budaj has filled one position with a freshman and the other with a sophomore, with the goal of rebuilding the team's center defense. “Both of them are untested... so we're going brand new in the middle,” he said. “I don't have kids to move around.”
Overall, the Bulldogs have 29 players, which Budaj said is the largest number of soccer athletes he has coached in 10 years. “We're not scrambling for kids to play JV, we're not scrambling to make up teams,” he said.
Budaj said the Bulldogs will draw their strength from returning All-Conference players Kianna Woods and Lauren Webb. “We're going to lean on those two. Hopefully, Kianna can match last year – she scored 12 goals,” he said. Webb scored nine goals, which Budaj hopes she too will match.
“I would like to see this team finish with probably six or seven wins... It would get us back into the tournament, which is what we've wanted,” said Budaj. The SHS girls' soccer team has not been in the tournament for five or six years, said Budaj, so that opportunity would be a new experience for all of his current players.
As part of the NCCC league, the 16-game schedule will include some matches against Bulldogs-sized teams such as Bolton, East Windsor, Canton, Coventry and Somers, but will present challenges against teams that are much bigger, including Avon, Ellington, Granby and Suffield.
New co-captains Vanessa Knowlton, Lauren Webb and Kianna Woods agree that although the team is made up of young players, it also has several skilled players. With hard work on the field, the captains will help the team achieve its best. The captains concur that they expect their biggest challenges this year to come from Avon, Suffield and Granby.
“I love the enthusiasm they've come to the pre-season with. I love their desire,” said Budaj, of the players. “There are eight seniors on the team, and I'd really like to have the seniors go out and have a chance in the state tournament.”
Follow the Bulldogs' progress at www.casciac.org.