Westport girls soccer readies for playoffs as they beat Southeastern 3-1, tie Diman 0-0.
Photos and story by Richard W. Dionne, Jr.
The Westport girls soccer team beat Southeastern …
The Westport girls soccer team beat Southeastern 3-1 at home on Wednesday and tied Diman 0-0 on Thursday, to boost their record to 11-5-1 and 8-2-1 in the Mayflower Athletic Conference. The Wildcats are currently 30th in power ranking and with one game to go, hope to secure a home playoff birth.
The Wildcats are having a break out year scoring goals this season and have outscored their opponents 55 to 22. Leading the team in scoring is seventh grade phenom Lily Veracka. The 4 foot 11 inch, 78 pound, striker scored 17 goals for the Wildcats. The tiny striker combines quickness and speed with a ferocious competitive spirit. She scored a whopper of a goal to break a 0-0 tie during the second half of the Southeastern game by beating four defenders and the goalkeeper. Veracka stole the ball off a tall defender, then dribbled across the field between two more defenders, dribbled around a third and leapt over the outstretched goalkeeper as she attempted to make the save. The ball trickled by and Veracka tapped it into the back of the net, to give Westport a 1-0 lead.
“It feels awesome,” Veracka said of her season thus far. She has been playing soccer since age 4 and has played on youth and club teams to gain her skills. She said that she’s always had a knack for kicking the ball into the back of the goal.
“Lily’s style of play is exciting,” said head coach Gary Muello. “She’s fast quick and has great foot skills. She’s amazing. She does some wonderful things that makes your mouth drop.”
The Wildcats with just two seniors, have a bunch of up and coming young players like Veracka, that could turn into stars. Eight grade forward Vivienne Melo scored 7 goals this season. Seventh grade forward Ella Camara scored 6 goals. Seventh grade forward Sophia Nickelson scored 2 goals in her debut against Southeastern. Both goals were assisted by Harper Thibodeau, another seventh grader who was called up from junior varsity.
“They bring a lot to the team,” said co-captain Koynne Holden. “They are good players, but they are going to grow to be great players.”
Team play reason for goals
Coach Muello also credits the Wildcat’s team play for the rash of goals.
“They are exceptional goals. But the whole team sets them up,” he said. “The midfielders are really running the show. They are the workhorses of the team. They do a wonderful job defending and setting up the front line. The ball has to go through them to get forward and that’s what’s been happening.”
Holden, a senior central midfielder, is second on the team with 12 goals. She and junior midfielders Julia George (4 goals this season) and Tess Silvia are a big part of the Wildcats success. They are all hard nosed players with skills and a good motor. They roam all over the field, helping out defensively, transitioning the ball up to the forwards and at times, scoring goals.
“We have been playing sports together all of our lives,” said Holden of the midfielders. “We have a lot of chemistry and a good connection.”
Pacheco settling in at goalkeeper
Defensively, senior center back Emily Edwards and the backfield are helping first-time freshman goalkeeper, Morgan Pacheco settle into her role. Pacheco who has made 80 saves this season, took over full time when Melo went down with an injury.
“Morgan is playing a position that she is not used to playing,” Coach Muello said. “But she is stepping up big time.”
“She works hard and never complains,” said Holden. “Sometimes she takes losses to heart. But that’s just because she is young. But the team builds her back up again.”
Coach Muello believes that the team’s 11 wins this season is the highest in team history. And that total will only rise in years to come as the young stars get bigger, stronger and faster.