High school girls soccer teams tune up for the season

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The torrential downpour that soaked the boys soccer scrimmages had subsided when the 14 girls soccer teams took the field at Bond Fest last Wednesday. In the aftermath, the afternoon of soccer took place on wet and slippery fields, but the girls’ situation was certainly preferable to the boys’.
There were more girls teams than boys from Tompkins County taking part in the scrimmages that day. Dryden, Groton, Lansing, Newfield, and the host team of Trumansburg all got valuable practice in at Bond Fest.  

We caught up with the coaches of three of the most successful teams from last season to get a preview of what’s to come for Tompkins County soccer in 2019. Groton did not lose a game until sectional finals last year and is looking for more in 2019. Lansing has a historically very solid team, who suffered its first losing season of the 21st century last year. Lastly, Trumansburg reached the final four of sectionals in 2018 and will now have a new coach at the helm.

Groton Indians

Groton girls soccer had as successful a season as one could have without reaching the state tournament. The Indians won their first 17 games of 2018 and took home an IAC League Championship along the way. The undefeated season gave them the top seed in the Section IV tournament, where they defeated Delhi and Newark Valley to face second seed Unatego in the finals.
That championship game was the first and only time they tasted defeat all season as Unatego punched their ticket to the state tournament. Coach Dick Brecht wants that one back, but knows he has to temper his expectations for the new season.

“I think we definitely ought to contest if not win the division. I like our chances to make it to the IAC Championship,” Brecht said. “Truthfully, losing in the sectional finals last year stung a bit. Do I think we can get there? I don’t know. We have talent, so we’ll see.”

There will be an influx of young players for the Indians this year, with six freshmen on the roster. Notably, two IAC All-Stars, including the league MVP, Maggie Ossit, graduated last year. Brecht acknowledged that those are “big holes to fill,” which will be an important factor to continue their success. 

Overall, he was happy with what he saw from the young players during scrimmages and will look to find more areas they can improve upon.
Groton had a tough task to start their season on Tuesday, Sept. 3, when they faced Waverly. Waverly has reached the Section IV finals the past two seasons in the Class B bracket, whereas Groton is a Class C team.

Lansing Bobcats

Like its boy counterparts, Lansing girls soccer is a very successful program. The Bobcats have won five Section IV championships since 2006. However, last year was a tough one, as Lansing went 5-9. The farthest one can go back in the Lansing record books is 1997, and last year was the only losing season in that timeframe. 

Coach Eric Stickel is tasked with bringing the Bobcats back to those glory days, but his plan is to take it one step at a time. His goal is simply to improve each day, from scrimmages, to practices, to games. A long-term goal is not even in the picture at this point for Stickel.

From 2013 to 2017, Lansing won 70 of its 93 games. 2018 was a far departure from that. Stickel is not yet sure of what the team will look like on the field this season, but he’s happy to get out of Bond Fest injury-free and is ready to work with his roster this season.

“[We want] to find our roles, settle in nicely and see what kind of team we have moving forward,” Stickel said.

Hopefully, Stickel has an idea by now because their first game took place on Tuesday, Sept. 3, against Odessa-Montour on the road. Their first home game is on Sept. 5 against the Marathon Olympians.

Trumansburg Blue Raiders

For the past five seasons, the Trumansburg girls soccer team has been coached by Scott Stewart. His teams really came together in the past three years, going 39-10-3. Now there will be a new man on the sideline for the Blue Raiders, as Anthony Ouckama will be taking over.

Ouckama is inheriting a team that went 13-4 last year, falling to eventual Section IV champion Unatego in the playoffs, like Groton did. Also similar to the Indians, the Blue Raiders had two seniors who were named IAC All-Stars, including league MVP Jenna Seafuse. Given the recent success of the Blue Raiders, Ouckama is excited to get things going this year.

“It’s great to get a look at the girls. It’s my first year as head coach here at Trumansburg, so I’m getting to know the girls and the team,” Ouckama said. “I’m looking for those combinations that work for endurance and skill, so it’s great to be out here.”

With Ouckama heading into an introductory year of sorts in 2019, his goals don’t have to do with records or final scores.

“We’re going to come together, play great soccer and really form a team. Again, being my first year, I’m trying to hold those expectations in check,” Ouckama said. “Of course, we’d love to do well. I’m also getting a look at the other teams here [at Bond Fest], which is helpful to see what our competition is.”

Trumansburg’s season kicks off later than the aforementioned teams, with its first game taking place on Friday, Sept. 6, on the road against the Spencer-Van Etten/Candor Eagles.

It will be a competitive season of girls soccer in Section IV, and these three teams from Tompkins County are all ready to make their mark.

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