Last October the Mashpee High School girls’ soccer team learned a lot about itself. Under then-first-year Head Coach Julienne McCuish, the Falcons had their backs against the wall in terms of earning a postseason tournament spot. During the last two weeks, the team could afford zero losses, or they would have missed the playoffs.
Not only did the Falcons put together a fantastic run to earn their way into the playoffs, but they continued past just making it. Mashpee scored a blowout first round win before bowing to eventual Division 4 state champion Millis.
With all but three players from that team returning for the 2019 season, it is safe to say that expectations for this year will be a little bit higher. Coach McCuish knows that’s the case, but she said she is excited about what is to come.
“I’m confident. We had a couple of ups and downs during the offseason, in terms of some injuries, but overall we’re in pretty good shape and everyone did a lot of work during the offseason,” she said.
The lone injury that is still of concern is to goaltender Jaiden Bryant. A concussion suffered over the summer while playing softball has kept her out of action throughout the preseason. She hopes to return soon to work back into a regular spot in the lineup.
Depth is key when it comes to playing competitive sports, and one of the spots where the Falcons have some depth is at goalie. The team will be excited to have Bryant back, but McCuish has no qualms about starting Abby Dorman, who saw some time on the field between the pipes last year for MHS. “She’s been really stepping it up,” the coach said.
With a rock solid back four in front of the net, things should be good for whoever is playing goal. Senior captain Ashley Keleher, one of the fastest players in the South Shore League, is back to lead the charge in the back end. Keleher takes the majority of the team’s key free kicks and can mix it up both in terms of skills and physicality with the best of the league.
Juniors Brooke Johnston and Emily Theodore will be in the back end as well, as will Abby Thompson. Theodore has both speed and composure with the ball and is the prime corner kick taker for MHS. As a whole, McCuish believes that the Falcons back four work exceptionally well together and will be a big strength for this year’s club.
In the midfield there is plenty of depth to help on both ends of the field for the Falcons. Newcomer Kayla Hall, a transfer to Mashpee, has shown skill during the preseason. Senior Anna O’Neill is back for her senior season, and two years removed from a knee injury is hoping to have her best season yet for the club.
The Morry sisters, senior Ella and sophomore Samantha, are both expected to bring a lot to the table for the club. Junior Amma Holmes and sophomore Callia Eaton, a three-year starter, round out a very solid group of players in that section of the field. Eaton is one of the top distributors on the team.
Up front, leading the way is sophomore Sam Kersey. All that Kersey did as a freshman was score more goals and pick up more assists than any other player on the team. An all-star, the forward is a dynamic playmaker that hopes to build on a sublime rookie year. Sophomore Ava Gonsalves will also see time on the front of the field for the Falcons and is expected to play a bigger role this year for the team.
Two freshmen that will see their first varsity time are Anatassia McGrail and Emerson Fraser. McGrail will work in the midfield while Fraser plays on defense. Coach McCuish said that a few other players will swing from the junior varsity to the varsity as necessary.
Coach McCuish said she loved how her team finished off last year and believes that it has momentum going into this season.
“We’re looking to use that energy and build on it,” she said. “I think that (the finish) had a positive impact on their confidence. The way that the season started chipping away at their confidence after that slow start was tough, but the way that they finished it has seemed to carry over.”