Published in the September 9, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — With a strong veteran core returning to the girls’ soccer team this fall, the Pioneers are looking to continue its longstanding tradition of being one of the top Division 3 North programs once again.
The 2014 season proved to be a season to remember for the Pioneers, who finished the season with an overall record of 17-4-2. Lynnfield won the Division 3 North sectional title after defeating archrival North Reading 3-1. The locals kept rolling and defeated Dedham 2-0 in the state semifinals. The Pioneers fell 5-0 to Nipmuc in the state championship game at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Lynnfield has several key players returning from last year’s squad, which gives the Pioneers high hopes for an encore this season.
“It’s exciting and hard to believe it’s already here,” said Pioneers head coach Mark Vermont. “We have a senior heavy team that is very experienced. We are moving to the Cape Ann League Large Division this year, which is going to be a battle. We have been practicing hard and have played well in scrimmages against Danvers and Haverhill.”
Three senior captains will lead the Pioneers this year, including defensive specialist Kelly Look. Lynnfield suffered an early setback this season when Look tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
While the locals will miss Look’s defensive tenacity on the field, Vermont said the senior captain is looking forward to continuing to lead her teammates.
“Kelly is a tremendous leader and encourager,” said Vermont. “She is a humble person and has a lot of pride in the program. She is an asset to the program both on and off the field.”
Senior captain Lexi Yannone will be starting at forward this fall and will be building on a successful junior season last year.
“Lexi is a very, very hard worker who cares tremendously about the team,” said Vermont. “She has done a nice job for us in scrimmages and practices. She is going to be a strong forward for us.”
Senior captain Abbie Weaver will be playing both midfield and defense for the Pioneers.
“Abbie worked very hard during the offseason,” said Vermont. “She is a versatile player, an intelligent player and a good leader. She is the Brock Holt of the team.”
Junior Liz Reed will be playing outside midfield and forward this fall. Reed proved to one of the Pioneers’ main scoring threats during the locals’ run to the Division 3 state finals last November.
“Liz is a tremendously intelligent player who is very fast and very skilled,” said Vermont.
Senior Kristen Buzzotta will be the Pioneers’ starting goalie this year.
“Kristen is a very experienced and talented goalie,” said Vermont. “We are looking for her to step right in and lead the defense.”
Senior Meryl Braconnier will be helping Buzzotta anchor the Pioneers’ backline.
“Meryl is a very fast, intelligent and strong defender who stays composed,” said Vermont. “We are looking for her to nail things down in the back.”
Senior Emily Lucich will serve as a key part of the Pioneers’ midfield.
“Emily knows how to stay composed and is very experienced on the ball,” said Vermont. “She is doing a good job communicating in the middle to keep things organized.”
Senior Hannah Scollard will be joining Lucich in the midfield this fall.
“Hannah has a good cross and has good passing vision, which is crucial for us to keep the ball and possess the ball,” said Vermont.
Additionally, the Pioneers have welcomed several new players this season.
“The players we have brought on the varsity team will provide us with a lot of depth,” said Vermont.
Vermont said the leadership provided by upperclassmen will serve as Lynnfield’s biggest strength this season.
“Out of the 21 kids on the team, 16 are either seniors or juniors,” said Vermont. “The upperclassmen have a lot of experience and we are going to lean on that this year.”
While the Pioneers’ veteran core will be the locals’ biggest strength, Vermont stressed the Pioneers need to stay focused and continue working to get better as a team.
“We need to find our way with the style we are trying to play with passing the ball to feet,” said Vermont. “I have seen a lot of improvement during the preseason but it takes time.”
The Pioneers host Triton on Wednesday, Sept. 9, beginning at 3:45 p.m. The locals travel to Pentucket on Friday, Sept. 11, beginning at 4 p.m. Lynnfield hosts Marblehead on Saturday, Sept. 12, beginning at 10:30 a.m.