THE WAKEFIELD girls’ soccer captains, from left to right, Lily Duval, Emma Shinney and Caroline Roberts are ready to lead the Warriors in 2022. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)



WAKEFIELD — “We’re focusing on being the best teammate you can be and doing whatever is asked of you to better the team,” said Wakefield girls’ soccer head coach Steph Martin when asked what the Warriors are fixated on to start their 2022 season. “We’re focused on playing one game at a time, one half at a time and leaving the field with no regrets.”

It’s a mentality that certainly served Wakefield well last season. After all, what could you regret about the program’s first league title since 1988?

The 2021 Warriors, Middlesex League Freedom Division champs after a regular season record of 12-5-1 and 7-2-1 against Freedom opponents, set a new standard for the Wakefield girls’ soccer program. Even though they graduated a strong senior class including five league All-Stars, the Warriors now have an unconquerable culture of team in Martin’s 7th season at the helm.

The 2021 EMSCA D2 Coach of the Year who was also named one of the top coaches in the state by the Boston Globe, Martin has plenty of promising student athletes ready to carry the torch in 2022.

Leading the team will be their three senior captains: Lily Duval, Caroline Roberts and Emma Shinney.

“My captains have been outstanding leaders starting in the offseason,” said Martin. “They always set the tone at practice and in games and keep the team focused.”

That’s a mindset shared by all the members of the Class of 2023 on the team this year as they look to get their team ready for another run.

“I’m excited to have another big senior class and have been impressed with their leadership so far especially with our younger players in the program,” said Martin.

The captains will be relied upon, not just for leadership, but for goals this season as the Warriors replace two of their best finishers ever in current Merrimack forward Ashlee Purcell and St. Anselm forward Kayli Porter.

Shinney, Duval and Roberts, who patrol the midfield, will need to create even more chances along with seniors Caileigh Sweeney, Sydney Moon, Ania Jacob, juniors Fiona Recene and Molly Forrest and sophomore Aliza Margolis.

Defensively, senior Mary Kerrigan, junior Alexis Manzi and sophomore Shea Suntken will be counted on to set the tone.

Multiple players have stood out in new roles, none more so than Duval and Suntken.

“I expect another solid year from Lily Duval. She’s a very versatile player that I can put almost anywhere,” said Martin. “Shea Suntken has been very solid in the back this year and has really stepped up so far.”

Per usual, the Warriors have had to start their season with tough opponents Lexington and Arlington, two Div. 1 schools. Last year’s team lost to Lexington 5-1 and Arlington 6-1 at the beginning of the season before going 11-3-1 the rest of the way.

Wakefield lost to Lexington 4-1 on the road Sept. 7 and dropped a 2-0 contest in the home opener against Arlington on Monday. They have another tough, Liberty Division opponent in Woburn today at 4:30 p.m.

As is always the case, it doesn’t get any easier once shifting to Freedom Division schools either. Consistent league champion Stoneham already flexed their muscles with a 6-1 win over Woburn on Monday. That’s life in one of the best soccer leagues in the state. So far, Melrose has tied the Tanners and Wilmington and Burlington have tied an always-strong Reading team. They’ll all be tough to beat.

That’s why Martin preaches a game-to-game and furthermore, half-to-half focus. The Warriors will need to be locked into that mentality even more this year as the reigning champs.

“We always preach that we have to play our game and focus on what we do well to help us succeed,” said Martin. “We don’t want our opponent to dictate the game.”

With that in mind, Wakefield will go to work on accomplishing some of their season goals, first and foremost being a return to the Div. 2 state tournament where they were ousted in the first round last year by No. 8 Grafton 2-0 on the road.

“Our number one goal is to make the tourney,” said Martin. “Other than that, we want to be competitive in every game and make a run for the Freedom title again.”

So long as Wakefield can maintain their emphasis on being a good teammate and leaving it all on the field, more success is sure to follow.