The Chambersburg girls soccer team returns five starters for the 2019 season, which is not an unhealthy number to start with.
However, finding replacements for several of the three- or four-year players who graduated will be a challenge. That’s a lot of experience and talent to make up for.
“We have some big shoes to fill,” Trojan coach Ed Franchi said. “We lost Emily Mort and Alex Cottingham on defense, Lauren Ocker in the middle and Gabby Lecuona up front. Last year we had a good amount of seniors starting; this year we might be starting five sophomores.”
Chambersburg was 9-10 last year, and qualified for the District 3 playoffs. Getting back to the postseason is still the objective, but it will have to be done with younger players.
“The goal is to get back to districts,” Franchi said. “We felt we gave up some losses up last year that we shouldn’t have, and I think the girls want to get some revenge.”
The Trojans do have their returning players scattered around the field.
Seniors Ashley Bawell and Savannah Wertz will play defense, with Bawell playing in the center with sophomore Katarina Betris, and Wertz will be outside along with sophomore Olivia Martin. Wertz could also move inside if needed.
The defensive midfielder is senior Layne Kimple, who had two goals and six assists last year, while junior Gianna Weigel (1 goal, 3 assists) will man the offensive midfielder position.
The other returning starter is sophomore Brooke Huntsman, who will play up top alongside sophomore Lindsey Swanger. Huntsman hit the net four times last year and added five assists, while Swanger pocketed three scores.
“Gabby scored 24 goals last year,” Franchi said. “That’s tough to replace and no one player will do that. So we need different people to step up and take chunks of those goals.”
In the midfield, a group of four players will handle the two outside positions — senior Eliza Bellows (1 assist), juniors Adeline Williams and Hannah Foschia, and sophomore Nether Dean.
Freshmen Ahsia Thomas and Aubrey Pyne will get some time playing on attack, while junior Katie Parker will help out on defense.
The goalkeeper duties will be taken over by junior Annie Metzger.
“Even though we’re young, I think we’ll be fine,” Franchi said. “I think the sophomores can really bring it.
“I think our team unity will be a strength. We’re a lot more together than we were last year. We lost a lot of talent, but we can compensate for that by playing together. In fact, our motto is: ‘One team; one heartbeat.’ The girls have practiced hard and are showing good focus and dedication.”
NOTES: Franchi said one team goal this year is to beat State College, a team the Trojans have never defeated — last year they lost 4-3 and 2-1 to the Little Lions … Quinn Oyler is the assistant coach … Of 39 goals scored last year, girls who return scored 10 of them … In Chambersburg’s tournament on Saturday, Susquehanna Twp. and Camp Hill play at 9 a.m., followed by the Trojans vs. Gettysburg at 11 … The consolation game is at 4, and the championship at 6.