Eagles eye state championship

ARLINGTON - Arlington coach Dan Wood stood on the pitch at the Arlington Rec Park, giving instructions to members of his team during their second week of practice.

With the start of their season about two weeks away, the Arlington girls soccer team has one thing on its mind, according to one of its team captains. "[Our goal is to] win a state championship," said senior Molly Elwell. "That's number one."

While a state championship may be the goal, there will be both an old, familiar foe - as well as a new one - that will pose the biggest obstacle to the Eagles Division IV championship hopes.

"Probably in the Division four it will be Proctor and MSJ (Mount St. Joseph Academy)," said coach Dan Wood. "MSJ has never been before, not in soccer. This will be the first year. Ludlow, they were very good last year, but they lost quite a few players. But, they'll be one of the better teams in our division."

The Eagles have numbers on their side, boasting the largest number of team members (25) that there have been in Wood's four year tenure as the varsity coach.

"Usually it's 16 to 18," Wood said. "So, we've been kind of thin on numbers, but this year we won't be."

What's more, they have a solid nucleus returning.

"Our whole team's coming back. We got the same 11 starters that we had last year," said Wood. "Everybody already knows their job, where they're going to be basically and of course Molly (Elwell) and Julia (Lacoste) will be strong up front and Brooke Hawley in the midfield and then Hailey (Davis) and Becca Solari in the middle on defense. And so far Shelby Baker and Tasha Groton have looked very good in practice."

The familiarity of the players with one another is one that both captains - Elwell and Lacoste - and Wood feel will be beneficial once the season gets underway.

"We've all played together for a while so our connection with everyone is really good. We all communicate well and work together well," Lacoste. "We all work well together. We've been playing together for a long time."

Wood expressed similar sentiments.

"It can only help," Wood. "They were all starters last year on a team that was [6-10], which was terrible for us, but of the games we lost besides one they were all very close. We got our whole team back. So, we know our opponents fairly decent, what they're going to have coming back."

Though they are only a couple of weeks into practice, both Wood and Elwell have said they are encouraged by how the team is coming together.

"We've been working a lot over the summer, playing a lot of pickup games and I think that's definitely shown in these days of preseason," said Elwell. "We've been working hard It's a good connection this year. I think it will be different than last year."

Hannah Andrews, Olivia Andrews, Katie Berger, Emily Blum, Avery Bucchieri, Elizabeth Fischer, Aimee Frank, Amelia Gingue, Mackenzie Gross, Xandria Hoyt, Jaime Keel, Riley Lane, Michaela Mattison, Sophie Pedermont, Grace Smith, Bailey Therriault, Brooke Therriault, and Whitney Walsh round out the roster.

The Eagles will open their season on Friday, Aug. 29, at MSJ. The game begins at 4:30 p.m. The team's home opener will be on Thursday, Sept. 4, against Bellows Falls at the Arlington Rec Park. That game begins at 4:30 p.m.

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