The Essex girls’ soccer team kicks off its regular season at home Saturday as it hosts Mt. Anthony at 12 p.m.
The team is lead by a trio of senior captains: Victoria Bean, Mychaela Harton and Megan McFarlane. Coach Bill O’Neil also highlighted seniors Jessica Poratti, Samantha Serrantonio and Hannah Bovee as players posed to make an impact this season.
In total, the Hornets have 14 returning players. O’Neil said that while this depth of experience should help the team starting out, he believes “you don’t start where you finish the year before, you start over.”
O’Neil said he’s still not sure of the starting 11 he’ll be fielding on opening day.
“I need fleet outside midfielders that will go up and back and not jog from the offensive end, and I need backs that are tough and can win the ball and distribute,” he said.
He also admitted he’s noticed some players are still hesitant and tend to miss opportunities, evident during their scrimmage against Hanover on Monday. That being said, O’Neil understands it’s a long season.
“I’m not worried about where we are right now. The kids are very optimistic and working hard, and you’re going to have games like that,” he said.
O’Neil stresses the importance of positivity among the players, and said it falls on the shoulders of the experienced players to help instill these values.
“Being leaders by example, working hard and doing the best they can; I’ll never ask any more of them than that,” O’Neil said.
He said he’s looking forward to this season, praising the competition throughout Division I.
“We should see a good race this year and it’s going to be who gets the bounces, and maybe the calls,” O’Neil said with a smile.