Last season was a giant leap forward for the Chariho girls soccer program.
After making an improbable run for Division II Championship in 2000 – with a .500 regular season record no less – 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 – two of which starters – from last season’s team.
That being said, the three seniors will be missed as Hannah Baker and Hannah Duscha anchored the Chargers’ defense and Almonte – unable to play because of a knee injury – provided valuable leadership.
“I was mostly nervous about filling those two [spots] because they were our two key defenders,” Chariho coach Brittney Godbout says. “[Sophomore] Jamie Dobson, she’s kind of taken over Baker’s role and I have a freshman [Olivia Pellegrino] who’s playing center D so I have a very young defense.”
Senior Rayanne Enos – a captain this season along with Meghan Rousseau and Ryan Tracy – will help stabilize the Chargers’ 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 team’s best strikers and – as she did a season ago – will likely be one of the division’s best at season’s end.
“She’s one of our key strikers so that’s going to be her role again this year,” Godbout says. “Her, [sophomore] Meg Kirby and [junior] Sami Orciari are our three strikers.”
The trio give the Chargers a significant amount of firepower at the top of their lineup, which is only reinforced by the team’s strong core of midfielders highlighted by Tracy and sophomore Katie Cuddy.
Talented freshmen Gabby Harris and Sydney Allen – among others – will be vying for the remaining starting midfield spots.
Also back this season for the Chargers is one of last year’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 couldn’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.
“If she were a foot taller she’d probably be the best keeper in the state,” Godbout says. “She gets to everything laterally, she gets to the second shot every time. She has a gymnastics background but I still don’t know how she gets to all those second shots.”
According to Godbout a handful of juniors that played junior varsity last season – Dana Matassa, Zoe Johnson and Dana Sutcliffe among them – have also been challenging for playing time at various positions on the field.
It’s still too early to tell just how good Chariho can be this fall but after last season’s strong campaign the Chargers are playing with a whole new attitude.
“You can see the change in practice,” Godbout says. “Now 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.”
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.