Seniors looking to lead Coventry girls soccer team to playoff success
COVENTRY — The Coventry High School girls soccer team features seven seniors and, according to head coach Kevin Sisak, those seniors know what they want to accomplish before their high school playing careers are done.
“Our seniors’ goal has been to win the Portage Trail Conference. Without it even being said and the look in their eyes, they knew that,” he said. “Now our goals are right in front of us. Since I have been a part of Coventry, the girls program has never advanced past sectionals. So, the goal is districts and a district championship. We want to be playing while kids are out trick-or-treating.”
Through Sept. 26, the team was out to a 7-1-3 overall record, including a 3-0-2 mark in league play. Those numbers are much improved over last season, when the team finished 6-11-1. However, Sisak said, the results of last season set up this year’s success.
“We gained a lot of confidence from the end of last season leading into this one. We beat Alliance in sectionals in a shootout that was a confidence booster for our returning players,” he stated. “We looked to find our style of play and our identity. We have done that. We also needed to fill every spot on the field with our strongest players. And we’ve done that.”
Sisak said the team is led by its trio of senior co-captains. Those three, with comments on each by the coach, are:
• Goalie Alexis Gross: “She has proved a lot this season with her focus and skill. Alexis has started about every game since she was a freshman. This year, she’s stepped up her game to the level where she makes the saves that she’s not supposed to. Her effort in the net has come up huge.”
• Midfielder Hanna Whitesel: “She has turned it up for her senior year and she also has started all four years. Hanna puts the team first and plays a little defense for us when the going gets tough. Hanna has three goals and six assists thus far.”
• Midfielder Madison Hollingsworth: “She plays the game with a lot of drive. When Madison is on, the whole team seems to play better. Madison is our most reliable player, which is why she splits time between sweeper and central midfield. Madison has scored in big games for us. She had a game-winner in the final 90 seconds against Southeast.”
The team’s other seniors are midfielder/defenseman Kylee Davis, midfielders Mallory Farrance and Amanda Meredith, and defenseman Taylor Smith.
“Kylee is in her second year of playing on the varsity squad. She gives 110 percent effort and her attitude is contagious, along with her laugh,” Sisak said. “Mallory has battled a few injuries early on this year, though you won’t hear her complain. She has scored some very nice goals for us this year, and we’re looking for more production in the second half of the season. Amanda has developed into a solid player. She is asked to play several positions and she’s smart. She does what is asked without question. And Taylor is our bulldog on defense. Taylor does her job and does it well. She is consistent and reliable — all the traits you want in a defensive player.”
This year’s squad features “a good mix of talent between all four grades,” Sisak said.
“Megan Fuller, Tori Matson, Karli Morisak, Kim Snow and Olivia Van Riper are a group of freshmen who have contributed and earned their time. Good things are coming their way,” the coach said. “Courtney Hamlin has improved at the forward position and made a lot of strides in our game with Northwest. Sara Holderbaum and Brittany Zittle are key players who are expected to step into the leadership role next year. Hanna Mungo, Brooke Oldaker, Taylor Stoddard, Makala Boggs and Zoe Sheppard keep improving and are our reserves this year.”
Sisak cited Olivia Williamson as a breakout player for the team this season.
“I told the girls they need to maximize their minutes. Olivia Williamson took that to heart by scoring the tying goal against Norton,” he said. “She hasn’t left the field since.”
According to Sisak, Coventry has shown improvement as the season has progressed.
“The girls continue to improve and learn, which is good. Being able to adapt and prepare differently for teams is crucial in our success this year,” he said. “We want to be playing our best come tournament time.”
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