BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity soccer team is deep and talented this fall as it prepares to challenge for another Bayside Conference championship and a deep run in the state playoffs.
Coach Misty Bunting has eight seniors and seven juniors returning from last year’s team, which finished with an impressive 11-3-1 mark and reached the state regional semifinals. The Seahawks fell to Reservoir in the state regional semifinals on penalty kicks after two gritty overtime periods, and the returning players are anxious to erase that heartbreaker from their collective memories and start on a new campaign this season.
“The team is really experienced, and more importantly, very dedicated,” said Bunting this week. “The seniors in particular have really stepped up thus far. They came to practice this summer ready to go.”
Bunting said the team opened the summer practice sessions in shape and ready to go, allowing her to add new wrinkles to the already outstanding program. With veteran leaders all over the field, the Seahawks are beyond going over the basics and are fine-tuning what is already a well-oiled machine.
“We came in knowing what we want to do and what we have to do to get there,” said Bunting. “Our veteran players are taking charge and stepping up as leaders and our younger players are showing a lot of promise. We brought a lot of players up from JV late last year and they are familiar with the program.”
At all starts in goal for the Seahawks with senior Leann Flounlacker, who was first-team All-Bayside last year. Fronting Flounlacker on defense will be a pair of returning seniors in Haley Socha and Lexy Nathan along with a handful of juniors and sophomores ready to step up and fill in the ranks.
The Seahawks will likely be strongest in the middle of the field with seniors Taylor Blazer and Lauren Cosgriff anchoring the center midfield positions. Other seniors Bethany Howe and Cate Cropper are making the transition from the forward position to midfield this year, and another senior, Devon Harman, is expected to make a big impact in the middle. The Seahawks will get additional help in the middle from sweeper Danielle Celia, a junior transfer. Up front, Decatur is counting on senior Bradley Janson to be the big finisher on offense.
The Seahawks will find out rather quickly how far they have come and how far they still have to go with a couple of huge games right off the bat this season. They open with always-tough Queen Anne’s at home next Wednesday before facing another big rival, Parkside, at home on September 14.