The 2017 Varsity Girls Soccer at James River High School will be a diverse group of players in terms of their ages and playing backgrounds. Over the last few years, the team has had the benefit of several junior and senior loaded teams which has helped to provide experience all over the field. This year, the team will be a younger, less experienced group of players with a fewer number of seniors. There is an increased interest from the freshman class which will in turn help to provide significant numbers for both JV and Varsity teams. Coach Stowe believes that the younger players who may not have the Varsity level experience at this time, will be able to come in right away and compete for time in order to push the level of competition higher. In addition to the younger sided team, there will still be an important presence of highly experienced seniors and juniors who have helped shape the team’s dynamics over the past 2-3 years.
Returning as a starter for the Varsity team will be Abby Rieck, a sophomore who proved her quality as a goalkeeper last year as a freshman against several powerhouse teams such as Cosby, Clover Hill, and Monacan. Abby posted six clean sheets to go along with 93 saves in 17 games, recording a 1.47 Goals Against Average as well. The 2016 season was a record year in the number of saves since Stowe took over four years ago.
Leading the defensive unit, there will be multiple players in which Stowe will look towards to solidify the back line and provide a stable defense moving along in the season. Senior Hunter Collier started 12 of 13 games last year as a center back and will be a vital component again this season. Paired with her in a central role, junior Emily Crocco (5G, 3A) will form a consistently strong partnership with Collier and lead from the back. In addition to the strong partnership in the middle, Stowe is encouraged with the options available for outside backs this upcoming season. Returning senior Meghan Siedlecki and her sister Erin Siedlecki, a junior pulled up mid-season in 2016, have proven themselves last year as reliable defenders as well as providing an attacking option from the wings with services into the penalty area to incoming forwards. Additional outside backs who have shown promise last year with both JV and Varsity teams are Katie Schneider, Lauren Tope, and Caelan Colaiacovo. Colaiacovo, a varsity member in 2016, can be used anywhere in defense and in the deep lying midfield role. The defense will need to be a focus this season early on to develop a good working relationship as the team gets closer to playoffs in May.
After graduation in 2016, the Rapids midfield lost several seniors who played a vital role in making the team tick in possession and creating scoring opportunities. However, Meaghan O’Toole returns and will be leaned on as the anchor in midfield to keep the team running like a well oiled machine. Joining her in midfield this year, will be fellow classmate Lindsey Manning who will be a third year Varsity member and looking to lead the attack. Juniors Nicole Beachy, Mallory Musgrove, and Hannah Ward will provide depth and experience for both O’Toole and Manning, as they appeared in several Varsity games in 2016. New to the scene from JV will be sophomores Jessica Gregory and Rachel Leipold. Gregory may see more time in the defensive unit, but is more than capable at playing a deep lying midfielder that can protect the back four. Leipold will offer more of an attacking aspect and will look to compete for time at the attacking center midfield role. The midfielders’ focus this year will be to dominate and control possession for us and help to maintain a tempo which we will be dictating in the duration of the match. In previous years when the midfield battle has been won from our standpoint, the girls varsity soccer team has upset several number one ranked teams including Cosby, Midlothian, and Mills Godwin all within a week of each other. This will need to be a primary focus heading into the 2017 season.
The 2017 season may see one of the most explosive and lightning fast attacking sides the Rapids have had since Stowe came aboard. Junior Kiersten Hening has had to take a huge weight on her shoulders the last couple of years by providing the goals and production needed to secure wins for the Rapids. This season, she will be joined by a young group of players who possess a great deal of speed and talent to go at opposing defenders. Transferring in this season after moving back from North Carolina, sophomore Lindsey Keith will help to lift that weight off Hening’s shoulders. Additionally, senior Allison Andrews and junior Kayla Foliaco will add support to the team and especially the front three players in the Rapids traditional 4-3-3 formation.
Lastly, several newcomers to the program will be looking to shine in their first season as Rapids players. All four freshmen will be looking to compete immediately for time and will be gaining valuable experience as their time continues with the Rapids soccer team. Looking to be more of a helpful companion in the back with Collier and Crocco, Sophie Azula will be competing for an outside back spot with several others that have a year or two experience under their belts. A duo of midfielders, Lauren Beachy and Lindsey Munyak, have also come in this year and will add even more support to O’Toole and Manning. Rounding out the class of 2020, will be Amanda Arnone joining Hening and Keith in the front attacking three.
We’d like to go ahead and thank all friends, family, and fans of the team for coming out and supporting the girls this season! Go Rapids!