MANCHESTER - When the Burr and Burton Academy girls soccer team begins their season next Tuesday, Sept. 3, coach Dan DeForest expects good things.

"A lot of these players [had] a lot of playing time last year so we expect that they are going to step right in and bring varsity experience to each and every game and every practice," said DeForest. "The experience that they bring with them will bring the new players to the program up to the varsity level in a very quick, short order. So, I think that we'll be playing very competitive soccer right from the get go with this group."

Burr and Burton has a solid nucleus returning. Of the 21 players on this year's roster, 14 were on last year's squad.

Maggie Penkoff, who was the team's starting stopper last year, is returning on the defensive line. Tess Pollard, who was the starting fullback last year is also returning on the line as well.

Juniors Jordan Harmon, Daisy Sullivan and Dierdre Walsh will be returning up front. At the moment though Sullivan, who was big contributor last season, has been out with a knee injury and has not practiced so far this preseason. The goal is for her to be able to play the season opener against Hoosick Falls, but DeForest said that will depend on her health.

"We're just being cautious in the early pre-season here to make sure that we don't turn it into something more," he said. "We're not going to do anything early on that might jeopardize the entire season.


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So, we're going one day at a time in her rehab process, which she's been working on."

Juniors Joanna Jorgenson and Samantha Sullivan, who split time in goal last year, are back again this year. However, one of the players that DeForest will have to find a replacement for is Kate Montague who played sweeper for the team last year.

"She probably played more minutes than anybody last year because that's just the position and she did such a great job for us," said DeForest. "So, that's a question mark. Hayley Sabol [has] been playing back there in practice and she has a lot of the attributes that we like to see in that player, but again she hasn't had a lot of time back there as a sweeper in game situations so that's where scrimmages will really help."

DeForest will also have to find a replacement for Rory Halligan at the halfback position.

"That's where some of the people like Dierdre Walsh who really subbed through different lines for us last year will probably step in and play more of that role," said DeForest. "Katie Bourque, who's a senior [and] new to the team this year, she's also a halfback that can step in and contribute at that spot."

Lucy Bisselle, who was called up from the JV Gold team this year, has also shown that she has the skill set to play the halfback position and DeForest said he also expects Devon Thiele - who was sidelined almost all of last year with an injury - to be a contributor this year as well.

Like Bisselle, juniors Megan Grabher and Caitlin Merrill have also be called up from the JV Gold team. Also new to this year's squad are sophomores Aggie Bisselle and Stephanie Boucher and junior Sarah Alpert who transferred to BBA from Massachusetts.

Among the other returning members of the team this year are seniors Emma Hallett, Katy Jones, Lauren Keyes, junior Maggie Oliver and sophomore Kate Cottrell.

Also back this year is long time assistant coach Bruce Kern who DeForest said not only "does a quality job with the girls," but has been instrumental in the program's success throughout the years.

With a good blend of talented new and returning members, DeForest is looking forward to seeing what this year's team can do.

"The whole 21 of them, it's a nice group. I think we're going to have a lot of people who can fill in a lot of different roles. We're excited about the group," DeForest said. "These fourteen girls bring a wealth of playing time with them so that's what's really nice about the group and it's on each line that we have some of this experience. It's not all concentrated in one area and not another. So, we have varsity contributors at every line and that helps the whole program."