In a region that is rich with competitive soccer at the high school level, it is certainly no small feat to successfully string a handful of wins together during the season. As a season progresses, it is easy for early success to lead to late-season regress to blemishes that make a difference in standings. For the Groton Indians’ girl’s varsity soccer team, the early success has fielded the well-oiled machine that has powered its way to a banner year in 2018.As with many sports teams that see a run of success, girls on the Groton varsity squad take little time off from working on perfecting their on-field abilities. Working outside of an Indians uniform has made the varsity squad more prepared than ever for their impressive run in 2018. “There really is no such thing as an offseason for this team,” said Head Coach Dick Brecht. “Almost all of the starters on the team play together in club ball.”
The Indians have used their offseason bonds and preparedness to power through the regular season and constructed a strong resume, finishing the season 14-0. Along with a dominating run, the Indians added an IAC Small School Girls title to the resume to move to 15-0. While the record and conference title are impressive, it’s the way that the Indians accomplished these feats that stands as a true testament to the team’s skill. Through the IAC Championships, the Indians have shut down opponents’ offenses to a point of almost being impenetrable, allowing just six goals through 15 games. “We have a lot of experience on our defense,” said Brecht. “Sophia Bell, Lillyan McCormick, and Taylor Thompson have led the way defensively and made big plays.” The veteran back line has certainly made a strong impact on the direction of games, helping the Indians deny a single tally against in eight of the first 15 games.
With a back line that stands tall in the face of pressure, Brecht only needed a talented goalkeeper to complete his shutdown defense. Emma Dematteo, a sophomore for the Indians, has given opposing shot takers, which are few and far between, headaches with her well-rounded athleticism and flashy hands. “She’s been playing since she was young and has really developed into a key piece for us,” Brecht said. The growth in Dematteo’s game has progressed with time and with strong guidance from her teammate Lauren Reeves. “Last year, Lauren centered our back line and took Emma under her wing to help coach her defensively,” Brecht said. “Emma learned so much from that, and you can see that coaching pay dividends this year.”
A common sports phrase suggests that “Defense wins championships.” While the defense has been a staple of the Indians’ success, the offense has certainly propelled the Groton girls to dominating victories. Generating the offensive power begins in the Indians’ midfield. “Our midfield passes the ball forward extremely well,” said Brecht. “They work so well with our style of having a forward peel back to create offense.” The midfield contributors of Brooke Brecht, Natalia Bell, and Abby Corcoran see quite a lot of action because of the formula that Brecht institutes for generating a rush. “These girls make instinctual plays that aren’t necessarily taught by anyone,” he said. “Our midfield is the key to our offense.”
The offense for the Indians picked up an astonishing 71 goals through the first 15 games of the year, garnering a plus-65 goal differential. The manipulating play of Brecht’s midfield unit allows for the two-pronged attack of Maggie Ossit and Reeves to spring into action. “Maggie and Lauren are outstanding strikers and have been having a great year so far,” Brecht said. “They work so well with our midfield to create space and chances.”
With statistics that have skyrocketed, an undefeated regular season, and an IAC Championship on the Groton resume, Brecht knows that his team isn’t satisfied with the success. “The girls keep themselves grounded, even with the success this season,” he said. “They know that there are bigger goals down the line like winning the section and making a run into the state playoffs.”
Note that the top photo is not of Maggie Ossit (who is #5 for the Indians). In the photo is junior Lillyan McCormick (#6).
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