Despite numbers game, girls’ soccer starts strong

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”Gabe Dreyer” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]

Sophomore Madison Nadeau dribbles the ball against Brookline Thursday, Sept. 22. The Tigers remained undefeated with a 1-0 win at Warren.

by Kristian Lundberg
Although the varsity team opened the season with key wins, the girls’ soccer program managed to have a rocky start.
After coach James Hamblin brought up four freshmen to the varsity squad and added eight to JV, only nine freshmen were left to play on the freshman team—leaving them two players short of fielding a full team.
Furthermore, some sophomores were cut at the same time the freshmen were raised to varsity or JV, according to Hamblin.
“We want all girls to play at their appropriate level,” he said.
“We put the girls on their teams on a purely developmental basis. If a player’s good enough, no matter the age, she should play on a better team.”
Hamblin further emphasized the need to “give girls playing time” on a suitable team.
“Last year, there were 24 girls on the freshman team, but only a few came back as sophomores,” he said. “The participation varies year-to-year, but the soccer program as a whole is about finding the right level. If a girl is frustrated on her team, she might not return next season.”
Due to this lack of numbers, some sophomores, as well as some freshmen who made JV, have played with the freshmen team, Hamblin said.
“It’s more of a JV-2 team than an only-freshmen team,” Hamblin said. “We’ve let our opponents know, and they’ve been fine with it.”
Senior Lauren Smith, a captain with seniors Sarah Perlo and Katie Regan said, “I know it’s something we can’t control, but still, I think it’s kind of sad.”
“I’m not sure why there’s not much participation. Maybe it’s because some girls aren’t interested unless they play varsity or JV or because they think the freshman team isn’t as important anymore.”
According to Smith, “North has moved away from the freshman and JV teams. For some girls, it’s ‘varsity or nothing.’”
Still, Smith stressed the importance of the freshman team.
“I think it’s really important, and it’s one of the only ways to get better,” she said.
“The underclassmen add new talent,” Smith said. “Coach Hamblin has a saying: ‘If you’re good enough, then you’re old enough.”
The varsity team,  6-0-2 Tuesday, was undefeated over its first eight games, holding its opponents to only three goals over that span. Among the team’s highlights from the first month was the derby match Sunday, Sept. 18, in which senior Holly Szafran netted a hat trick in the Tigers’ 4-0 win over South.
The Tigers’ gradual improvement over the past few years, as well as their early season success, has Hamblin “cautiously optimistic.”
“We have a strong team with great all-around players,” he said. “Still, we’re focusing on poise in front of the net.”
Next week, the Tigers will host Natick Tuesday, before traveling to Braintree Thursday.