Girls’ Soccer: Seniors set the tone for the future
Figure this one out.
This year’s Douglas girls’ soccer team will lose six starters to graduation, but the Tigers will retain their top three goal-scorers and three of their top-five leaders in assists.
It’s a process rebuilding a program, but the Douglas girls’ will be in an ideal situation to reload for next year after winning its first playoff game under third-year coach Lorraine Fitzhugh’s direction.
The Tigers lose key players, and emotional leaders, from nearly every facet of the game, but because of their ability to cycle through the bench this season, they’ll be returning about two experienced players for every starter lost next year.
“I’m so proud of these girls,” Fitzhugh said of her team that went 13-6-1 overall and too third place in the Sierra League. “It was such a pleasure to work through the season with such a great bunch of kids.”
Among the biggest departures will be goalie Jamie Greer, who posted 10 shutouts this year, defensive standouts Lisa Christen, Samantha Ensminger and Marisa Bertolone-Smith, speedy forwards Tianna Gregory and Sarah Hartley, and outside midfielder Breanna Norvell.
“The defense was one of our strong points this season,” Fitzhugh said. “The five that were in there all season long really didn’t have a lot of varsity experience heading into the year.
“Marisa and Lisa were the only ones that were on the varsity team last year, so they really came a long way as a unit in a hurry.”
Sage Lyons, Mackenzie Cauley and CJ Baumgartner will all be returning on the defensive end, as will backup keeper Christy Harvey.
Fitzhugh also noted Greer’s development in the net.
“Jamie was rock solid all year,” Fitzhugh said. “She coached the defense up back there. She’s a talented player, but she also knows the game very well and she was calling a lot of the shots back there.
“Christy was in there challenging Jamie every week during practice and she should be very strong next year.”
Christen was also one of the team’s leaders offensively, as she directed a lot of the traffic from the defensive end. She finished the season tied for the team lead in assists with five.
Douglas will be in good shape offensively next season with Ally Freitas (16 goals), Dany Heidt (seven goals) and Alexandra Laing (six goals) all returning.
Laing also had five assists and completed her freshman year having made a strong contribution on the offensive end.
“Our whole midfield group came along,” Fitzhugh said. “Alexandra was very consistent, Breanna Norvell come on strong as the season progressed, Michelle Day switched from forward to midfield and put together a lot of good games for us.”
Fitzhugh also said midfielders Krista Anderson and Kelly D’Amico were some of her top players off of the bench.
She credited Gregory and Hartley with adding an unexpected spark to the Tiger offense.
“They were just walk-ons as seniors,” Fitzhugh said. “They were great additions to the team. Tianna has a wonderful touch and a rocket shot and Sarah gave us a lot of speed up front.”
Each player had a game-changing goal late in the season with Hartley scoring the game-tying shot against Carson and Gregory scoring the game-winner against Elko in the playoffs.
Douglas will lose another one of its top players up front as forward Nicole Didero, who scored four goals, which tied for the No. 4 spot on the team, and had one assist this season, will also be graduating.
As a group, they went on a seven-game win streak early in the season. They ran their home unbeaten streak to 17 games before South Tahoe ended with a 2-0 victory in the season finale.
Douglas followed the first-round playoff win against Elko with another loss to South Tahoe in the semifinals. The Tigers finished the year 13-6-1 overall and 9-4-1 in Sierra League play.