COLLEGE HILL – Senior leadership has come in handy this preseason for the McAuley High School girls soccer team.
First-year varsity coach Kristen Wanstrath gave birth to twins just six days before the Mohawks’ season opener, and while she’ll obviously miss the first couple weeks of the season, the seniors are making sure to keep the peace on the pitch.
“I think now that we have nine seniors we have a lot of leadership coming up on this team,” senior Amanda Ozolins said after the Mohawks beat Taylor High School 2-0 in a scrimmage Aug. 14. “I’m hoping we have a winning season and, yes, it has been hectic, but we have everything in line.”
While Wanstrath recently created a family at home, there’s been a family feel among her soccer team since she moved from junior varsity coach to the varsity coach. The former Taylor standout soccer player has coached all but two of the current Mohawks creating a very comfortable atmosphere in the locker room.
“We do feel more comfortable with (this coaching staff),” senior Sam Duwell said. “We feel we can relate to them more closely and it’s definitely been a more personal connection with the coaches and we’re not just a soccer team, we’re a family.”
Last season the Mohawks were 5-10-2 and went winless in the Girls’ Greater Catholic League (0-5-0). With another year of experience and a positive atmosphere surrounding the team, hopes are high in College Hill.
“They have the experience and the know all to lead,” Wanstrath said from her hospital bed via a telephone interview Aug. 14. “We have the age and experience to get us through what I hope will be a good season and to bounce back from last year. We’re looking to be a lot better this year.”
Look for a bounce back year from junior Sam Petri, who missed all of last season due to injuries in both of her knees. While she may not appear large in stature, Wanstrath plans on her playing a large role this season.
“She’s the smallest girl on the team, but she’s the feistiest,” the coach said. “She can shoot from anywhere on the field if she wants to and she’s just very aggressive. With her being so small she’s very physical in the central part of the field, which is very tough to do in the league that we’re in.”
Another player looking to have a bounce back year is senior Lauren Roll. After getting off to a hot start in 2013 and leading the league in scoring through the first five games of the season, Roll ended the season tied for third in the GGCL with 11 goals and sixth with 29 points.
“She’s our most experienced player up front,” Wanstrath said, who will relinquish her coaching duties to assistant coach Steve Morganroth until she is able to return to the bench. “She’s got a chip on her shoulder because I think she thought she was going to do a lot better last year, so I think she’s out for blood this year and wants to be the top scorer in the league if she can.”