From the outside looking in, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the rich history of the John Jay High School girls soccer program.
The Patriots won state titles in 2008 and 2009 under then-coach Darryl Sullivan, who moved on to coach at Marist. Over the last seven seasons, John Jay is 128-20-5. John Jay was 10-7-1 last season, falling in a Section 1 Class AA quarterfinal to Scarsdale.
“Instead of focusing on what we’ve done in the past, we’re trying to tell them you are your own entity within the history of this program,” said John Jay coach C.J Greenwood, who is in his third year guiding the Patriots. “We’re not judging you based on what has happened in the past. You’re going to make your own history. Just know what it means to wear the jersey. I think that’s where the history comes in.”
John Jay, which competed in its first set of scrimmages at Arlington on Thursday, will move to a 4-2-3-1 formation this year with three seniors — Haley Thoma, Kate Tumulty and Jessica Fricker — along with junior Natalie Szova in the backfield supporting sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Durland.
The Patriots will feature a freshman starting at center midfield — Erin Theiller, the sister of John Jay star volleyball and softball player Megan Theiller. Corinne Burns is the team’s top scoring threat as the one true striker in the formation.
“We are very fast in the back and very strong in the center of the field,” Greenwood said. “We are going to try to utilize that. Corinne, up top, just motors all the time.”
Now a junior, Burns said she takes responsibility to mentor some of the younger Patriots as former top strikers Sam McGuire and Alyssa Zeoli did for her when she joined John Jay as a freshman.
“I have to now nurse the younger players like (McGuire and Zeoli) helped me,” Burns said. “It’s fun. I feel like a teacher.”
Burns said that she and Theiller have been working together often.
“She plays right behind me and I’m really helping her put more confidence into the ball,” Burns said.
Thoma said she’s excited about the new formation, which will allow John Jay to attack more from the outside.
“I think, at least for our team this year, it’s a great fit.”
One reserve who is happy to be back in the blue and white is senior back Veronica Murphy, who suffered a season-ending torn left ACL last Oct. 20, just before the Section 1 tournament. She said she underwent physical therapy four times a week before being cleared to play about two weeks before tryouts began.
“I love this team and it’s my senior year,” Murphy said. “I wanted to be with the girls I’ve been playing with for four years now and some of them even longer.”
Murphy said the attitude of the team is very positive.
“We have each other’s backs and that’s what I think is the best part,” Murphy said. “We’re an actual team. It’s not just individuals playing together.”
Thoma said she’d like to see the Patriots win Section 1 Conference 1 League A, which includes Section 1 Class AA champion Arlington, Our Lady of Lourdes, Roy C. Ketcham and Somers. She also thinks the team could win a Section 1 Class AA title.
“We’re more than capable of it if we work hard and work as a team,” Thoma said.