Talent pg 9 9-6-18

WOODSTOCK — Two things that usually spell good things for a high school team; talent and chemistry.
The Woodstock Academy girls’ soccer team has plenty of both going into its season and home opener against Bacon Academy at 2 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
“On our second day of tryouts, we were already working together so well. I can just see us going super-far this season,” said senior Ashleigh Angle.
The Centaurs went pretty far a year ago.
For the first time in program history, it captured the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship with a 6-0 win over Plainfield.
The team has come a long way.
“You build for it, you can’t wait for it, because if you wait for it, you may never get it,” said coach Dennis Snelling.
He recalled what core group of his team experienced as freshmen, matches like a 10-0 loss to East Lyme.
“Now, they are the team with the target, at the top,” Snelling said.
And most of them who got to experience the rise to the top last season will get a chance to defend that title. Sixteen members of last year’s varsity squad are back in a Centaurs’ uniform this season.
They will be missing some key pieces.
Makara Sorel, who shared the team lead with eight goals, has graduated as has the Most Outstanding Athlete of the Woodstock Academy senior class last year, Kennedy Davignon.
But Snelling is happy with the group he has.
“I think we want to play with more pace, faster. Do the things we do well, but do them at a higher level,” Snelling said.
Ivy Gelhaus, a two-time Class L All-State player, is back after a 15-point, eight-goal season to lead the offense.
“Everybody knows about her so the trick there will be to get other people up into the attacking part of the field. We’re not going to leave it all up to Ivy,” Snelling said.
Getting others to contribute shouldn’t be a problem.
The Centaurs had 14 different players in the scoring column last year.
Brynn Kusnarowis was only a freshman last season and was a dominant defensive player in the middle for the Centaurs.
“She can only improve and her vision and fitness are better. She has really taken on a leadership role vocally,” Snelling said.
The Centaurs will miss Davignon (3 goals, 7 assists) and her ability to elevate in the middle.
Enter: Angle.
“Ashleigh is probably one of the better aerial players in the female game at this age,” Snelling said.
All four of Angle’s goals last season came off of headers.
“I think I have more accuracy with my head than my foot,” Angle said with a laugh.
Angle realizes she may be needed to fill in the role that Davignon occupied.
“I feel like I have to do that and also change my role on the field. I need to play a little more defensive this season. I feel like it will help our team as a whole,” Angle said.
Angle is also a team leader.
She proved her ability to motivate this past summer when strength and conditioning workouts took place at 7:30 a.m.
“That’s very early and a bunch of us didn’t want to get up at 7:30 in morning and Brooklyn kids had to get up at 6 to be there for 7:30. I would just force people to go, make sure that everyone was getting there and if they weren’t, I texted them, called them, emailed them. It’s vital for the season. Everyone had to come in fit,” Angle said.
The Centaurs also have a pair of experienced keepers in Irene Askitis and Rachel Holden.
But as much as they accomplished last season, there is still more to do.
The Centaurs finished 16-5 overall, but were 8-2 in ECC Division II and finished runners up to Bacon Academy.
This year, Woodstock Academy battles the likes of Norwich Free Academy, East Lyme and Fitch in Division I.
The Centaurs also lost to Joel Barlow in the first round of the Class L state tournament. After battling to a scoreless tie in regulation, the Centaurs lost the match on penalty kicks, 7-6.
“It’s very difficult,” Angle said of trying to keep the energy going after winning an event like the ECC tournament and then having to start all over again in the state tournament. “We are going to have five captains this season and we’re all going to work together to motivate every player. If we keep the push, the driven attitude, we will be able to keep the mindset on the field.”
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


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