If you find yourself watching the Sandwich girls’ soccer team in 2019, don’t blink, you may just miss something spectacular on the field.
With one of the fastest teams head coach Dave DeConto has had that he can recall, the Blue Knights are looking to turn on the afterburners this season and leave their opponents in the dust as they vie for a deep playoff run.
“This is shaping up to be one of the fastest teams I’ve had in awhile,” DeConto said. “With our depth and speed I’m hoping to wear out teams with our substitutions and our transition game.”
Sandwich boasts 24 players on the varsity roster with nearly half of them coming from a junior class that is chock-full of experience. They all will be led by a group of five seniors, two of whom are captains—midfielder Kelly Murphy and center back Maggie Mahoney. Outside backs Caitlin Wick and Kaitlyn Ramsey and outside midfielder Morgan Simmons make up the rest of the senior leadership on the Knights’ roster.
But with 11 juniors on the roster, featuring forwards Bridget Gleason and Victoria McGittigan, Sandwich will be keeping its pedal to the metal offensively, especially with the long leg of second-year junior goalie Sarah Lustic.
“With her punts that get over the midfield line, we can push four players upfield in transition now,” DeConto said. “That’s a big weapon.”
The team will be holding their collective breath on the status of two other key players in junior forward Swiss army knife Daria Harmon and sophomore defender Maddie Vauchon. Both have dealt with offseason knee operations. Both have been cleared to begin running, but Sandwich will have to wait to see how they progress to see whether or not they can impact the game this season. But in the meantime that will only result in more playing time for DeConto’s depth players like Clara Woodard, Grace Cohen, Morgan Ramsey, Claire Moniz, Riley Morrison and Sophia Riccardi. The head coach even had solid depth at goalie with backup Reese Walbridge allowing the team to stretch out to the full field during practice—yet another opportunity for the rest of the team to work on its conditioning and endurance.
DeConto doesn’t expect much to change schedule-wise by joining the large division of the Cape & Islands League this year, but he will welcome the stability that the move brings.
“What is nice is this allows us to have more of a set schedule of games on Tuesdays and Thursdays with practices on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays,” he said. “We only have two Saturday games and play three times a week only a couple of times.”
And with the addition of turf fields in home-and-home opponents like Falmouth and Dartmouth, the Blue Knights speed will be hindered by grass in three games in 2019—on the road against Dennis-Yarmouth and the island teams of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
In preparation for the first game of the season, which won’t occur until Tuesday, September 10 when the Knights will travel to Monomoy for a 4 PM game, Sandwich hosted Sturgis West in a scrimmage on Tuesday, September 4. They won 3-1 and never trailed in the game. It served as a good tuneup, according to the Knights’ head coach.
“When we play our game, I think we’re going to be very tough to beat,” DeConto said. “We were moving very quickly on the surface out there today.”