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Last season was a giant leap forward for the Chariho girls soccer program.
After making an improbable run for Division II Championship in 2000 â€“ with a .500 regular season record no less â€“ the Chargers returned to the playoffs with a sub .500 record the following year.
From there Chariho spent the next decade toiling at the bottom of the division through three and four-win seasons until moving down to Division III in 2012.
In D-III the Chargers tasted success for the first time in 11 years, finishing with a 7-5-2 record and making it to the division semifinals before losing to eventual champion Middletown 5-0.
A year later, Chariho is looking to build on its success from a season ago after graduating just three seniors â€“ two of which starters â€“ from last seasonâ€™s team.
That being said, the three seniors will be missed as Hannah Baker and Hannah Duscha anchored the Chargersâ€™ defense and Almonte â€“ unable to play because of a knee injury â€“ provided valuable leadership.
â€śI was mostly nervous about filling those two [spots] because they were our two key defenders,â€ť Chariho coach Brittney Godbout says. â€ś[Sophomore] Jamie Dobson, sheâ€™s kind of taken over Bakerâ€™s role and I have a freshman [Olivia Pellegrino] whoâ€™s playing center D so I have a very young defense.â€ť
Senior Rayanne Enos â€“ a captain this season along with Meghan Rousseau and Ryan Tracy â€“ will help stabilize the Chargersâ€™ defense.
Despite the youth on defense, the remaining returners should keep the Chargers in contention with the top teams in Division III.
Rousseau returns as the teamâ€™s best strikers and â€“ as she did a season ago â€“ will likely be one of the divisionâ€™s best at seasonâ€™s end.
â€śSheâ€™s one of our key strikers so thatâ€™s going to be her role again this year,â€ť Godbout says. â€śHer, [sophomore] Meg Kirby and [junior] Sami Orciari are our three strikers.â€ť
The trio give the Chargers a significant amount of firepower at the top of their lineup, which is only reinforced by the teamâ€™s strong core of midfielders highlighted by Tracy and sophomore Katie Cuddy.
Talented freshmen Gabby Harris and Sydney Allen â€“ among others â€“ will be vying for the remaining starting midfield spots.
Also back this season for the Chargers is one of last yearâ€™s best surprises, starting goalkeeper Silvana Terranova, who single-handedly kept Chariho in a handful of games last fall.
Anyone who took one look at the pint-sized keeper couldnâ€™t help but initially doubt her ability to keep the ball out of the net but time and time again the now-sophomore made spectacular saves for the Chargers.
â€śIf she were a foot taller sheâ€™d probably be the best keeper in the state,â€ť Godbout says. â€śShe gets to everything laterally, she gets to the second shot every time. She has a gymnastics background but I still donâ€™t know how she gets to all those second shots.â€ť
According to Godbout a handful of juniors that played junior varsity last season â€“ Dana Matassa, Zoe Johnson and Dana Sutcliffe among them â€“ have also been challenging for playing time at various positions on the field.
Itâ€™s still too early to tell just how good Chariho can be this fall but after last seasonâ€™s strong campaign the Chargers are playing with a whole new attitude.
â€śYou can see the change in practice,â€ť Godbout says. â€śNow that the upperclassmen have a feel for it and the underclassmen come in wanting I have a full squad that has the desire to win.â€ť
The Chargers will see exactly just how much they want it when the regular season begins Thursday, Sept 5 at 6:30 p.m. when they host defending champion Middletown.