Melrose hopes to continue upward trajectory in ’15
Published in the September 11, 2015 edition
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The Melrose Lady Raider soccer team has battled its share of challenges the last few seasons but, overall, it’s a program on the upswing. Last year Melrose went 8-9-1, just shy of clinching a playoff spot, but at the end stood greatly improved from their 2013 season.
Some of that success goes to the team’s four incoming 2015 captains: Katey Baraw, Hayley Rodriguez, Olivia Smith and Aevary Smith. Each Lady Raider is expected to be a playmaker this season and will be joined by an impressive upperclass.
The returnees include Hannah Butler, Emily Bertolaccini, Melissa Rushton, Jackie Pereira, Michelle Henry and Julia Foley. Among the newer players on the squad are Shannon Jones, Caroline McDermott, Erin Reardon, Anne Morrison, Colleen Denning and Tess Castergine. Two freshmen join the squad with Samantha Smith on offense and Abby Cunningham on defense.
Look for Katey Baraw to make an impact as returning center midfielder along with Caroline McDermott. Middies Aevery Smith, Kiere Sixsmith and and defender Lauren Pedrini should also see time. Defensively, watch for Hayley Rodriguez, Anne Morrison, Julia Foley and Olivia Smith to hold down the fort. Goalie duties, at press time, could be divided between Shannon Jones or Melissa Rushton.
For Melrose head coach Bill DeSimone, having skilled players with experience gives Melrose the ability to make things happen. “Our defense is definitely our strength,” he says. “We lost Jackie Pereira, our leading scorer and all star, but we are counting on our forwards to help, such as Hannah Butler, Michelle Henry, Colleen Denning and Sarah Herron.”
The well-conditioned Lady Raiders worked hard in training off season and it’s showing. A recent scrimmage against Div. 3 North champ Lynnfield delivered promise, with Melrose falling just 1-0. “So far I’m pleased with our defense,” says their coach. “If we don’t allow quality shots it makes a big difference, so I’d like to see them get better at defending corner shots.”
The beginning of their schedule is a particularly brutal one, with four Middlesex heavyweights on the horizon: Belmont, Arlington, Lexington and Wilmington. “It could be possible we start in losing column but that’s not going to define us,” says DeSimone. “This team works hard, puts in the hours and we have a strong senior class who are a pleasure to coach.”
Indeed it’s going to be a busy season for Melrose, who play approximately every two days between now and Oct. 24, when they hope to qualify for playoffs. According to DeSimone, securing a spot is a priority. “If we do the little things well, play minute to minute, we will be in every game and take wins.”