The Millbury ladies received back-to-back Division Three state titles in 2015 and ’16, and had been Division Four state finalists in 2017, however the Woolies’ unimaginable run of success got here to an finish final season when, regardless of being the No. 1 seed, they fell to Douglas in penalty kicks within the Central Mass. Division Four semifinals.
With many of the contributors from these state champion groups now graduated, third-year coach Hussein Issa says his present group is able to construct its personal legacy, and sixth-ranked Millbury has backed that up as one in every of solely two remaining undefeated ladies’ soccer groups within the space.
“We solely misplaced one participant (from final 12 months), so there aren’t any excuses. We will’t say we’re a rebuilding staff,” Issa stated. “Our younger gamers are one 12 months older, so we’re reloading, and I believe this 12 months we’ve a good higher bench. There’s little or no drop in play once we sub on gamers at many positions.”
The Woolies (11-0-1, 10-0-1 SWCL C) have steamrolled opponents, scoring no less than 4 targets in eight video games, whereas solely permitting 5 targets two-thirds by the common season.
“We’re not taking something without any consideration and we all know we’re not the outdated Millbury staff. Now we have to be taught it. We will’t use the legacy of the previous years,” Issa stated, mentioning now-graduated gamers like ahead Kelsie Cummings (Windfall School) and midfielder McKenna Kennedy (Boston College). “These groups made historical past, and I inform them, ‘Now, you need to go and make your personal historical past.’ ”
Whereas no gamers from the present staff have turn out to be family names within the CMass soccer neighborhood, like Cummings and Kennedy — though that might come if Millbury can stage one other state title run — the Woolies are have robust place teams in any respect three ranges of the sphere.
The offense encompasses a pair of speedsters in sophomore Grace Martin (13 targets, 9 assists) and junior Jackie Gilbert (9 targets, Three assists), whereas senior captain Audra McDuffie (10 targets, 10 assists) supplies expertise, management and technical means that empowers Martin and Gilbert to play their greatest.
“She’s actually quick up entrance, and he or she’s getting higher,” Issa stated of Martin, who has had a objective or help in each recreation. “I name her Grace 2.Zero now — from her freshman 12 months she’s turn out to be much more dynamic.”
Within the midfield, which Issa considers the inspiration of the staff, junior Cam Wilbur (5 targets, 5 assists) is a high-level, two-way participant, able to getting ahead within the assault and likewise monitoring again defensively.
Junior Meg Walsh and sophomore Allison Walsh additionally contribute in midfield, though Allison is a Swiss Military knife who can play virtually any place on the sphere.
“Now we have so many interchangeable gamers that we will play any formation,” Issa stated.
Senior midfielder Amanda Sarro, one other captain, and junior heart again Kayla Turner, who virtually by no means comes off the sphere, typically mixed to utterly shut down the opponent’s prime participant.
Abigail Gilbert is the ultimate captain and a member of the Woolies’ reliable again line.
Issa stated Millbury’s most encouraging win was a 4-Zero victory over Division 1 Grafton on Sept. 21 after the Indians swept the Woolies final season. They’ll play a rematch at 3:30 p.m. Thursday out in Grafton.
“I’ve informed them it’s our efficiency in opposition to prime groups that tells us what sort of staff we’ve,” Issa stated. “Our schedule is the hardest in Division 4, and we’ve a harder schedule than most D3 groups.”
Millbury has additionally received on the street in opposition to Tantasqua and Leicester, and extra not too long ago had a three-game stretch walloping defending CMass Division Four champion Uxbridge, 6-1, preventing again to earn a draw in opposition to Auburn after which beating 10th-ranked Shepherd Hill, 2-1, on Friday.
Nonetheless, the largest assessments are nonetheless but to come back over the subsequent two weeks, with video games forward at Grafton, at No. eight Sutton, at residence in opposition to Framingham and seventh-ranked Nipmuc after which at Valley Tech.
“Once you’re seen as one of many prime groups, there’s all the time a giant goal in your again and you’ll’t have a letdown,” Issa stated. “For different groups, to beat Millbury could make their season. It’s a giant problem, but in addition makes teaching this staff actually, actually pleasant and enjoyable.”
—Contact Carl Setterlund at sports [email protected]