The Prout girls soccer team returned to practice last week, coming into the 2013 season after a reasonably successful 2012.
The Crusaders finished near the top of the standings at 8-5-1, just their third season in Division I, and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Though there were significant losses from the graduation of players like Shannon Mis and Ashley DiClemente, much of the same is to be expected out of Prout this season.
With a good amount of depth in the program, the team was ready to reload with returning varsity talent and players moving up from junior varsity ready to step in and fill any voids left by last year’s seniors.
“I think all coaches have very similar goals,” says Prout coach Ria Carroll, “obviously making it to the playoffs and going as far as we can.
“…That’s my expectations of this team. I’m not sure how other teams are this year or what they got in, but just judging on what we lost and what was gained, we are very similar to the team we had last year.”
Though Carroll views the Crusaders as a deep team that will be good on both ends of the field, their defense figures to once again be a big factor in Prout’s success.
They gave up just 12 goals last year in 14 regular season matches, one of the best totals in the division, and will be returning a defense that includes players like Maddie Hagerty, Meghan Mailloux and Lindsey Tarbox, and is a unit their coach feels is “some of the best defenders in the state.”
One thing Prout will have to improve upon as they move forward this fall, however, is getting more production out of an offense that was ranked near the bottom of the division last season.
“Obviously always finishing,” says Carroll of Prout’s biggest need. “Playing simple, playing our game. …A lot of the games we lost were by one goal. If we can score that one goal.”
Senior Marissa Flood, described as a “natural finisher,” will be the first player looked to for help replacing the offense lost with the graduation of DiClemente.
“If she can get the ball on her foot and a look at the goal,” Carroll says, “a good percentage are going in the back of the net.”
Flood will be aided by forwards Emily Angeli and Alex Russell, sophomores who saw some varsity action in 2012, but will be moving up from JV fully this season and looked to for offensive contribution.
There is still some work left this preseason for Prout, but with a team that is mostly comprised of upperclassmen there is a familiarity amongst the players, so it is more a matter of “fine-tuning” according to Carroll, and both her and the team are ready for the games to begin.
“We’re pretty positive right now,” Carroll says. “The girls are gelling quite well together. We came in in pretty good shape. I’d say we’re looking pretty good.
“…It’s a very positive team I have this year. I think for a girls team the battle is staying positive.”
Prout will get their first taste of game action on Saturday when they travel north to Mount St. Charles for an Injury Fund tournament, playing games against the Mounties at 10 a.m. and against Cumberland at 10:40 a.m.
The Crusaders open their regular season at home Thursday, Sept. 5, against North Kingstown at 3:30 p.m.