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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Despite not rostering a single senior and squeaking their way into the Division III Tournament with an 8-8-2 record, Dover-Sherborn girls soccer did more than just raise a few eye brows last fall, thanks to their resilience.
The No. 14 Lady-Raiders ravaged No. 3 Tri-County by a 5-0 final in the opening round for arguably the biggest and most lopsided upset of the entire tournament. A 3-0 victory over No. 6 East Bridgewater in the quarterfinals advanced DS to the South semifinals against Hanover. After Mica Bodkins tied the game at one with just under 10 minutes to play, a pair of late goals helped Hanover to a 3-1 victory to end the Cinderella run for the Raiders.
With last year’s juniors now making the leap and serving as a core of senior leaders, along with the team’s experience of making a long playoff run, DS girls soccer enters the 2019 season motivated to have an extended stay come tournament time and compete for a state championship.
DS returns all three of its captains from last season, with the trio making the turn from junior to senior co-captains: center midfielder Cerys Balmer, goalie Sabrina Doyle and holding midfielder Caroline Gallagher.
“I think we’ll definitely be stronger this year,” said Doyle when asked about her team’s general expectations. “We have eight seniors this year and some players coming back from injuries that I believe will make a big impact.”
Balmer agreed with Doyle’s assessment that the returns of players such as midfielder Lily Thomson (foot) and midfielder Annie Parizeau (knee) will be huge boosts
“We had a lot of players miss time due to injuries last year. Lily was out for, like, two years with a foot injury and Annie Parizeau hurt her knee during the season last year, so getting those two back is huge for our midfield. Most of the seniors will be starting, so it’s good that we have a really strong upper-class compared to last year, when we sort of lacked that - not having any seniors on our roster. I think we’ve definitely grown in that perspective because last year we didn’t have that ‘this is our last game, go give it your all’ motivation from senior leaders, so I think having that this year is really important.”
As far as the general vibe of training camp thus far, Doyle and Balmer say that they like what they’ve seen when it comes to the effort they and their teammates have put in.
“I think we’re starting out pretty strong,” said Doyle. “We’ve got some good chemistry going, but obviously there is room to get better. But I like what I’ve seen so far, and I’d say we definitely had a strong start to camp this week.”
“It’s mostly the same faces, the same girls,” said Balmer. “With our class, the class below us and the class below them, each are a very tight-knit group of girls with great chemistry on and off the field. So, I think we’ll come back even stronger than last year and we’re all looking to win states and we all want to win this year. Last year, we were a young team and still figuring out a lot of things. But this year, with our leadership stronger and every senior having a voice, we are all expecting big things.”