The Panthers finished the shortened season 9-2-2.
In a fall season like we’ve never experienced before, perhaps the strangest difference at Whitman-Hanson Regional High was to not see the girls’ soccer team gearing up for the state tournament, for the first time in 21 years.
That’s because there wasn’t one to prepare for.
The Panthers still got what they could out of this COVID-shortened season, playing a stout Patriot League Keenan Division-heavy schedule.
“There wasn’t one game that you could look at and say that we have a great chance to win this game,” said 25th-year W-H head coach David Floeck. “Every game could go either way and I think that was great for our girls to get that experience.”
Floeck’s club finished the season 9-2-2, falling to Hingham in the semifinals of the Patriot Cup, 3-2, in a shootout.
“We had opportunities to win that game and so did they,” Floeck said. “I think we played very well in that match. We could have advanced. We had an opportunity to win the game with 15 seconds to go and their goalie made the save. We performed well and were happy with how the team played.”
Junior midfielder Olivia Borgen made it click for W-H on the offensive end. The Penn State-bound, All-New England first-teamer, scored nine goals and piled up eight assists.
“What Olivia found now was she wasn’t surprising anybody like last year, maybe she caught some teams by surprise with her offensive output,” Floeck explained. “Now teams were game-planning specifically to stop her, so one of the areas she grew in this year is how to handle when coaches are game-planning how to stop her.”
On the back end, junior defender Ava Melia garnered first-team EMass honors.
“Ava was phenomenal,” Floeck said. “She’s always been a top-notch player and one of the hardest working players whether it’s practice or games, and what Ava really did this year is become a true leader. We graduated our whole defensive lineup, besides Ava and she took over as the leader of that group. With a lot of our backline being new, she turned them into a formable backline and that’s what allowed us to make a run because they played so well and she gets a lot of credit for that.”
Behind Melia was the goaltending tandem of senior captains Reese Codero (Patriot League All-Star) and Kylee Colclough (committed to play at Stonehill College).
“We were fortunate to have two of the best goalies in the league on our team,” Floeck said. “They were the biggest supporters of each other. They celebrated each others’ successes, helped pick them up if something didn’t go well. We were very fortunate to have those two ladies in net for us.”
Senior captain and league all-star Alexis Billings played a key role in coordinating the Panthers’ offensive attack.
“She is one of those kids that isn’t always flashy, although she came up with some huge goals for us this season, but she is just the one who does all the dirty work in the midfield,” Floeck said. “She is someone you can just count on you know is just someone you count on. You just know you’re going to get a great effort and hard-fought game from Alexis.”
Senior captain and midfielder Abby Carew, senior striker Ana Sullivan, junior backs Megan Bizier, Skylar Jordan and Emily Leitch, sophomore midfielder Kayla Cassidy and freshman back Makenna Marshall also stepped up for the Panthers this season.
CALLING IT CAREERS
In addition to graduating seven seniors, W-H will also have to make up for the losses of longtime assistants Glenn Ward (23 years) and Tom Zamagni (26 years), both of whom are hanging up the whistles after a combined 49 years on the W-H sideline.
“So many things go on in our discussions and game planning together that have been instrumental, but the scouting the player development that they were both involved in, it’s hard to put into words what both of them have contributed to the program,” Floeck said. “Both are returning for family and that’s why they got into coaching. They treat it like it’s their family.”