Great D will be the hallmark of the 2017 squad

Published in the August 31, 2017 edition


MELROSE—For the last few seasons the Melrose High Lady Raider soccer team has often seen one goal serve the difference between win, tie and loss. Already a stingy team, Melrose in their pre-season has proved even tougher on defense, and that might create a path to victory over the fall.
According to coach Bill DeSimone, Melrose’s early season has revealed a very solid defensive unit. “This will be our strength,” he said, pointing out that the Lady Raiders held a team scoreless in scrimmage play. “Some of these girls who competed in the summer did some great things on defense, and I expect to see that this fall.”
Leading the team as captains are seniors Sarah Herron, Kiera Sixsmith, Lauren Pedrini and junior Abby Cunningham. Unfortunately for DeSimone, two of those players went down to injury. “We’ve lost Keira to a torn ACL, but Sarah is coming back, recovering from a torn achilles and we expect her to be a contributor.” Both players, along with senior Lauren Pedrini have been with the team since freshmen year and will provide natural leadership.
At the net, junior goalie Jill Stone returns for another year of play. “She got some play time last year and will be ready. She’s a big part of our defense.”
“Overall, we’re a junior/sophomore heavy team, but athletic, and I’m seeing some good stuff,” he reports. One of those things is the defensive efforts of Lily Cunningham. “She’s a natural athlete and moving her from striker to sweeper allows her to do more for us. She shows natural prowess there.” Other contributors in defense include Julia Deeble, “an excellent defender,” says DeSimone, and sophomores Liz Perrella and Serena DeBari.
Offensively, look for contributions from Peri MacDonald, Olivia Scarpa and Sam Smith. “They’re ready to have a great season,” says their coach.
As always, the Middlesex League is remarkably tough and their opening schedule reflects it. Melrose travels to Lexington on Wednesday and hosts state semifinalist Arlington on Friday at 3:45 at Pine Banks in their home opener.
“Every team we have is going to be a challenge,” he says. “Our goal is to limit scoring, avoid injury and play at our strongest. We have high energy and the girls are responding to the challenge.”