Millbury Girls Soccer Surprising Everyone
By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Second year Coach Scott Sullivan didn’t really know how his team was going to be this fall, but one thing he did know for sure was that each and every girl (seventh graders through seniors) would get a chance to play on a regular basis.
“Coming into the season our goals were to stay competitive while posting a decent regular season record. I didn’t know what I really had coming back, but never in my wildest dreams figure that we’d be 6-0-0 with only one goal allowed,” the Millbury girls soccer coach said. “We are not a great team yet, but we are a pretty good team that has been able to find ways to win and not lose. I am still trying to fit the pieces all together while making sure that all 17 girls play.”
Although the Woolies are playing quality soccer, Sullivan knows that the second half of the season is going to be extremely tough. Although he does not have any expectations for the remainder of the year he is looking for his team to take the field and be competitive while figuring things out as they go along.
“We’ve been fortunate and lucky while happening to find ways to win so far,” he said. “We need to clean up a lot of things as we are getting away with a lot and if we do not get better we will eventually be exposed.”
Sullivan has been playing all 17 healthy players through the first half of the year. The only one not able to get onto the field has been freshman Caylee Wilbur, who hurt her knee in basketball. She is a club soccer player and will eventually be a very solid player for Millbury when she is able to get back onto the field.
Senior captains Courtney Wilbur and Maya Bravo, both defenders, and Sarah Boulanger, a center mid-fielder all have the skills to lead the Woolies by example on and off the field. The trio are a group that Sullivan is looking to bring leadership to the field by taking control of what is happening in each contest.
While the captains are a very important part of Millbury’s success, everything starts and ends with their goaltender senior Ashleigh Lagore. Through the amazing early season run, the senior keeper has allowed only a single goal to get past her.
“She is a phenomenal goal keeper with great instincts and doesn’t give up anything,” Sullivan said. “She should have been another captain, but as basketball is her number one spot, she wanted the year-round soccer players to have that honor.”
Millbury also has two amazing freshman outside backs in Reily Caron and Madison Galicia filling in positions that were held by seniors last fall.
“It’s been crazy,” the coach said. “They’re playing at a level that I didn’t expect them to be playing at this early in their careers. I didn’t expect this from them until next year at the earliest.”
Another player who has stepped up her game this fall is junior Jayden Welch, a central midfielder who controls the tempo of the Woolies game. Sullivan believes that Welch, who can do a little of everything, to most likely to be one of the best players on the field for the team.
In terms of goal scoring the Woolies are not blowing people away, but again are doing the things that need to be due to secure wins. Striker Danielle Gilbert (5 goals and 3 assists thus far) and Elena Mimo, who took last year off from soccer, have been providing the offense through the early season success. The duo, who have been playing together since youth soccer seem to have a chemistry on the field.
“Danielle’s been a really great addition to our offense,” Sullivan said. “But I really don’t know where we’d be without Elena; she’s got the speed; good skills can shoot and distribute the ball and is so coachable.”
When Sullivan looked at the team coming in he was not sure what they were going to be able to accomplish having lost so much talent from the year prior and he was unsure of what the younger athletes were going to be able to do. Things didn’t look too good during pre-season when the Woolies were getting destroyed on the field by Douglas. The Coach went back to the drawing board and put together a whole new offense, which has seemed to rejuvenate the team.
“We have no real superstars, just a good group of kids. It’s an entire team effort where each and every girl is just as important as the other,” he said. “Never in my 24 years of coaching have I had a team like this. They are all hard working and get along with one another.”
According to the coach, Millbury has been outshot every game this season, but the opposition is not able to get off good shots due to the stifling Woolie defenders.
“A lot of teams are forced to take shots from the outside and you are not going to beat Ashleigh from there,” the Millbury coach said. “We look to make our shots count, thus the low number. I hate wasting shots, so we’ll move the ball around until we get that right shot we are not going to shot from 30 feet out.”
Although Sullivan foresees a much tougher second half of the season he is proud of what his team has accomplished thus far.
“I am enjoying the ride to the great start,” he said. “But you don’t get a trophy for how you start but how you finish.”
And Millbury is hoping to finish just as strong as they started.