Vin Mercogliano here with my final practice report of the day…
It’s a common theme when it comes to soccer at any level, and most coaches will tell you that the hardest thing to find is a quality striker.
Goal-scoring requires skill, poise and a knack for seizing the moment, as chances to find the back of the net are usually few and far behind. As I checked in with Rye on Tuesday, there were tremendous overall numbers and plenty of girls that clearly have some talent, but in order to achieve their goals – no pun intended – the Garnets know that they’ll have to find a consistent source of offense.
“I think that on offense, we definitely need to find some cohesion, but we can,” senior Hannah Krapes said. “I think we definitely have the offensive power to succeed. We need to work on getting it wide and in the flanks, and then I think we can bring it in and get some goals.”
Rye has reached the Class A semis in each of the past two seasons, but scoring may have been the one thing that held the Garnets back. They managed just two goals in three playoff games last year – including getting shutout by Eastchester in the semis – and improving that output seems to be the focus early in camp.
And with several returning starters on this senior-laden roster, they’re anticipating some progress.
“Our goal is to get past the semis because we’ve been knocked out there (the previous two seasons),” senior Christina Benincasa said. “We really want that, and it’s my senior year. My sister’s team went to states and I feel like we can do that, too.”
• Krapes will get the first crack at playing up top, so she’ll certainly be counted onto chip a few in, but she also mentioned Benincasa, Caroline Hyland and Debora Ludman also players to watch offensively. Hyland is coming off of ACL surgery. “I’ll be up top. I’ll be the striker, so I definitely see myself as responsible for getting us goals and getting our offense flowing,” Krapes said. “Distributing it outside, too, but also looking towards the goal and trying to find the back of the net.”
• Benincasa will play in the central midfield and will be responsible for pushing the ball up the field. “She’s going to be in the central part of the field, and she’ll need to distribute and get our offense running,” Krapes said.
• While the offense may have a few question marks, the Rye players sounded very confident in their defense. Charlotte Tucci is a reliable central defender with plenty of speed, and junior goalkeeper Maddie Eck is regarded as one of the best in the section. “I think our MVP is Maddie Eck,” Benincasa said. “She’s just so good back there, and to have her back there as our rock is really good.”
• Final word goes to Krapes, who spoke about wanting to advance past the semis this season: “We really just want to break that threshold,” she said. “We have, I think, 13 returning seniors, so we definitely still have a strong upperclassmen group to lead the team. We also have underclassmen who can do the work, too. I’ve been playing with some of these girls since I played rec soccer, so it’s definitely easier to play with them. I know how they play.”