Speed and athleticism power Plainfield soccer

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Plainfield - posted Tue., Sep. 24, 2013
Shannon Sweeney covers a lot of ground for Plainfield, playing wherever she's needed most. Photos by D. Coffey.
Shannon Sweeney covers a lot of ground for Plainfield, playing wherever she's needed most. Photos by D. Coffey.

When the Plainfield High School girls' soccer team beat Fitch 4-1 in its third game of the season, it was a first for coach Jon Zielinski. Previous matches had not gone Plainfield’s way. “That’s probably the best I’ve seen our team play since I’ve been coaching,” he said. “They gave me the whole 80 minutes.”

It’s still early in the season, but the Panthers are off to a good start. They posted four wins in their first four matches. Back-up goalie Avarie Manfredi posted two shut-outs before veteran goalie Serena Gunter returned from an early injury. And midfielders held their own even though they were at less than full strength.

“This year our strengths will be our speed and athleticism,” Zielinski said. “Our ball-handling is getting better and better every day.” He has his sights set on a berth in the ECC medium division tournament and home field advantage in a state tournament game. Zielinski is working to make sure his players are patient with their shots, get in closer to the net before taking them, have more touches and play an entire game with the same consistency and intensity.

The Panthers were pushed around in the first half of a Sept. 20 game by rival Griswold. After 30 seconds, they were behind 1-0. It took some adjustment, but the Panthers regrouped and scored 3 unanswered goals to eventually win the game, 3-1.

Zielinski is in his seventh year as head coach. It is Katie Dobratz’s first year as assistant coach. Seniors Mary-Ellen Sweeney, Sarah Burdick, Alicia Cournoyer and Lindsay Charlwood captain the team.


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