Girls soccer: Shelton looking to build on success

 

Juliane Niedzwiecki. — File photo

Juliane Niedzwiecki. — File photo

The Shelton High girls soccer team reached the semifinals of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament and the second round of Class LL playoffs in 2014.

After posting an overall record of 11 wins, six losses and three draws, the Gaelettes are seeking to take a step forward in 2015.

We expect a solid season this year in Shelton High girls soccer,” head coach Marvin Miller said. “We expect to challenge for the Housatonic Division championship and the SCC championship and have set a goal to advance deep into the Class LL playoffs.”

A key to reaching expectations for Shelton is separating itself from the pack during the regular season. Despite their strong record, the Gaelettes were 3-2-3 within SCC Housatonic Division play. That starts with day-in, day-out consistency.

“Our ability to achieve this year will be determined by how well we set ourselves apart from the other very good programs in the SCC and in Class LL,” Miller said. “There are a lot of good programs, many as good as we will be. So, for us, we have to make the decision every day to be the very best version of ourselves that we can be.

“That depends greatly on individual leadership, each player leading herself and everyone committed to the same vision and working collaboratively to reach it. I think these last few days we’ve started really getting on that path.”

Shelton lost 15 players from last year’s side, including its spine of defender Carly Shomsky, midfielders Samantha Hartmayer and Laurel Bailey and forward Alexis Zoppi.

“That was the center of our team most of the season,” Miller said. “We graduated a lot of varsity experience.”

Fortunately for the Gaelettes, a group of experienced returnees will form the nucleus of this year’s squad.

Senior captains Jillian Engeldrum, a defender, and midfielders Juliane Niedzwiecki and Michelle Gutierrez are back to lead the charge.

In addition, Miller returns a trio of his top scoring threats from last year in junior midfielders Kathryn Arena, Kaleigh Panek and Sarah Skoronski.

Abbey Turco also returns to form a defensive partnership with Engeldrum on the backline.

“We also have a lot of improvement this season from players like Olivia Gill, Kristen Shuster, Taylor Doolan and Mary Lewis,” Miller said. “They will take many of the spots vacated by senior graduation.”

Between the sticks, four potential goalkeepers, Courtney Litts, Shelby Offord, Shawn Reinhardt and senior Elysia St. George, are all fighting for the No. 1 shirt.

“They are all pushing each other to be their best,” Miller said.

Shelton opens its season on Saturday night at Finn Stadium against Sacred Heart Academy. Kick off is set for 7 p.m.

“All in all, we expect a fine season this year and plan on bettering the solid performance we made last year,” Miller said.

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