Knights and Eagles tune up for soccer season
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Tolland/Ellington - posted Wed., Sep. 11, 2013
Last season, the Tolland High School girls' varsity soccer team was upset in the second round of the Class M tournament by former rival Ellington. Ellington dropped the subsequent quarterfinal to Lewis Mills. While the teams play in different conferences and therefore their fates are not necessarily intertwined, last year's playoff game may have been on the minds of some of the players, as the two teams were among the many to face each other at the Tolland jamboree on Sept. 7.
Tolland coach Ken Boucher said his team is rebuilding, has four seniors, and a lot of younger talent. “We have to play,” he said. “We can't play with fear. We have to play as a unit. We have to get some rhythm out there, and play together. If we play as individuals, it's not going to happen.”
With a good mix of speed and size, Boucher said his team will also have to find a way to take the pressure off of standout senior striker Jenny Jacobs. “She's like a linebacker out there,” he said. “We have to find other scorers. I'm not of the belief that one kid makes a team."
In scrimmages so far, Boucher said, the team plays well when they talk more. “They're quiet out there on the field,” he said. “When they get the rhythm going, they look very good. We scored two goals against Avon, and looked very solid. You've got to tell your partner out there that there's a girl on you.”
First-year Ellington coach Melissa Morgan-Hostetler said it may be tricky for her players, having a new coach for the third time in three years, but that the team is very receptive to new ideas and her system of play. An EHS grad, she coached South Windsor for 16 years before taking the last two years off.
“We have some really good, hard-working seniors who are very good leaders,” she said, adding that she also has a mix of players. “We have a couple of really promising freshmen, as well as a strong nucleus of seniors who are back, and some good juniors, so a strong core.”
While Ellington has some speedy forwards and midfielders, Morgan-Hostetler said the team will be focusing on defense.
“We have some speed demons, absolutely,” she said. “What we're trying to do is build from the back. We want to limit shots. That assures us that if we can put one away, we'll win 1-0. That's the beauty of soccer. You don't have to have a whole lot of offense going on if you have a real solid defense.”
Both coaches said they have high expectations this year.
“Realistically, we could win the conference, but there are a lot of changes in our conference this year,” Boucher said. “Some of the teams are having a down year. We defininitely have a chance, because some of the powerhouses aren't there.”
Morgan-Hostetler said her team is looking for a return to the quarterfinals and further.
“Of course, they have set the sights high,” she said. “But, they also know that it's hard work, and they appreciate that it is earned. Last year was a nice transition, because they had a taste of it.”
Ellington's season begins Sept. 13 as they host Granby Memorial. Tollland takes on Glastonbury on Sept. 11.
For complete schedules, visit www.casciac.org.