Wildcats embrace underdog role competing for conference title
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Wed., Sep. 26, 2012
The Suffield High School girls’ soccer team finished the 2011 season with a 12-4-1 overall record, but watched their four-year reign atop the North Central Connecticut Conference come to a close with two losses to Granby Memorial. The Spartans' hope for a three-peat as Class M champions also ended at the hands of Granby Memorial during a 2-1 defeat in their Class M quarterfinal match-up, but the young team is ready to bounce back.
“We have a young squad this year, but I think we have a squad with lots of talent,” said Jillian Consolini, junior captain and defender. “The league sees us as underdogs because we lost so many of our upperclassmen, but I think they underestimate us, and we can definitely come out on top this year.”
The strength of the Wildcats’ team is in their backlines. They are led by senior captain and goalkeeper Gabby Arruda, as well as All-State defender Jillian Consolini. The defense will also look to a pair of freshman to step up and earn minutes to help bolster down the protection. Hannah Consolini and Julia Picard will learn on the fly as they attempt to strengthen and fortify Suffield’s defense.
“Our defense is our strongest point,” Arruda said. “We are definitely working from the back to get forward and using our forwards' speed to get up and score.”
Suffield’s offensive attack will be led by a duo of juniors and All-Conference performers last season, Reilly Williams and Brittany Champagne. Williams netted 18 goals last season while Champagne tallied 17 of her own, leading the Wildcats to outscore their opponents 60-10. Suffield’s explosiveness took a hit when senior captain and forward Alexa Keney re-injured the ACL in her left knee, causing her to miss her second straight season. Suffield is also looking to fill a hole in the midfield caused by the knee injury to Alexa Champagne.
“Pushing the younger players is the most important part because we want to play at a high level all year long,” Keney said. “We are working hard to push each other and get the best out of each other.”