By Will LeBlond
A lot has to go right in any given season for a team to be successful, but the Groton Girls Soccer team feels like they have the pieces to put that puzzle together.
After the Indians took a step forward with an 11-4 record last fall that included their second straight IAC Small School Championship, they’re bringing back more than enough talent to get back to that level and then some. A 2-1 loss to Lansing in the Class C Section IV quarterfinals stung, but it could be worth its weight in gold in terms of experience.
Groton graduated five seniors, but their sophomore class of six now moves up into an upperclassmen role, where they are striving to try and get their entire team unit together.
“I talked to the younger kids about the way things are and I think they’re progressing faster than I expected,” said 11th-year head coach Dick Brecht. “I think that’s a tribute to our older players who have been here. They’ve embraced them and they know, they’ve been there at one point and they know what it’s like to be there.”
One key member of that junior class is Lauren Reeves, who was unable to play in the team’s sectional tournament loss because of medical reasons but was still the team’s leading goal scorer with 19 tallies in 2017. She makes up a list of eight upperclassmen (two seniors) that has been building up to this fall for quite a while now.
“We have always been really close,” said Reeves. “We work well together and we know what to expect from each other.”
With a solid group in place, Brecht and company are looking to get over the hump and compete for a sectional title. Among the improvements is the team’s strength and conditioning, which was a major focus for the Indians over the offseason. The team used Aaron Newman at Iron Mind Performance and Fitness in Cortland for plenty of sessions that they hope will pay big dividends come postseason time.
“I’m hoping that will be the first step,” said Brecht on the conditioning. “Last year we battled injuries and we played a ton of soccer that took its toll on us. To me, what’s going to get us over the hump is staying conditioned, being stronger and staying focused.”
They’ll get their first test of the season on Monday night against Odessa-Montour before a midweek game against one of the section’s top teams will put their group to the test. The Indians will hit the road to Trumansburg to face last year’s Class C Section IV runner-up and Reeves hopes it will be one challenge of many on their road to a deep playoff push.
“We definitely want to win IAC, Sectionals and have a good showing at states,” said Reeves. “I really think we can. The group of girls we have here is really good and we work well together as a unit.”
Brecht echoed those aspirations.
“Our goal has always been to be competitive and win our division,” said Brecht. “We’re locked in at sectionals this year. We want to make a run at it. I think that’s a realistic goal if we stay healthy, stay smart and play the way we want to. We can be competitive with most teams.”
The Blue Raiders will be one strong team they’ll look to compete with as it will also add another important game to their schedule, which they’re hoping will last well into the fall.
“I think they’re hungry,” said Brecht. “They have an understanding for what it takes to win a championship. I’m hoping experience playing in a big game will carry us through.”
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