WEST NYACK — While Chris Kelly is very familiar with the talent in the local travel circuit, Clarkstown South’s new head coach said he doesn’t know much about the other high school teams in the area and what they bring back.
But the first-year head coach has seen enough of his own team to know one thing: The girls have the talent to go further in the sectional tournament than last year’s first-round loss to Mahopac, who was the eventual sectional finalist.
“I’m excited for the challenge and I think we have a good core of kids,” Kelly said. “We have kids that can play soccer; it’s a matter of me feeling my way through and them coming to an understanding with me. If we gel together, we should have a really positive year.”
With the team’s opener against Scarsdale only a week away, Kelly said the team is going to have to learn and adjust to his coaching style on the fly, and some players might even play positions they haven’t played before. However, he likes the team’s depth and versatility, which should help ease the transition.
“He’s obviously different than (last year’s head coach Tom Rolston), but he has the same work ethic,” senior centerback Deanna Trongone said. “We’re doing a lot of things we did last year. Yes, he’s different, but he’s doing very well with it. He knows what he’s doing.”
Trongone, who has committed to Division-I Fairleigh Dickinson University, will be one of a core group of seniors that will be leading the team this year, along with midfielders Sam Keegan and Julianna Vincini and midfielder/defender Danielle Gillespie.
Aside from them, the team mostly consists of underclassman, in particular, a junior class which includes forward Danielle McManus.
“A lot of the juniors moved up to varsity, and they should because I feel they are going to be a big part of the team” Trongone said. “We’ll all step up and we all want it.”
Aside from the youth of the team, Kelly will also have many new holes to fill, with only 14 players returning from last year’s squad. To have a successful year, Kelly said he wants to play good soccer and to make the playoffs, adding that he thinks the team will be very different at the end of the season than what it is right now.
“There’s not a big learning curve here; the season starts and its only eight to ten weeks,” Kelly said. “We got to get to work right away and the expectations for me, this is not a rebuilding year: you got to recharge.”