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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
After a 10-3-1 regular season and the earning of the No. 6 seed in Division III South, the Dover-Sherborn High School varsity girls soccer team went on a heart-stopping playoff run a season ago that included 2-1 victories over Norwell (PKs) in the quarterfinals and Rockland (extra time) in the semifinals.
Unfortunately, DS fell just short of a sectional title, falling 2-1 on penalty kicks to top-seeded Archbishop Williams in the sectional title game. However, despite the tough conclusion to last year, the Raiders proved to both themselves and the rest of the state that they are serious state title contenders. They will look to carry their success from a season ago into 2018.
With no seniors rostered heading into 2018, DS will rely heavily on their youth to bring them back to the state tournament. Headlining the major returns for DS girls soccer are three junior captains in Cerys Balmer, Sabrina Doyle, and Caroline Gallagher.
“We feel very fortunate to be elected captains,” said Balmer. “Our junior class has a big and solid soccer presence, but we have no seniors, which is a pretty unique situation. We’re excited to lead the team, especially a team that’s as youthful as we are, but we look at it as an opportunity to create new traditions and add to some of the success we had last season.”
“Before really anything, our main expectation is to grow our team and bond,” said Doyle. “We have two years to really become a team, but our main goal this season is to win states.”
When it comes to building chemistry with one another, Balmer and Doyle agree that the 2018 Lady-Raiders are becoming a close-knit group with a strong and positive vibe that is becoming contagious amongst the group.
“In the past, we’ve had good chemistry, but there’s been that age gap between kids who are seniors compared to some that are freshmen,” said Balmer. “This year, we’re all around that same general age group with so many sophomores and juniors, so we really want to take advantage of being around the same age and get that chemistry and bondage down so that we can move on and compete for a state championship.”
“The vibe of our team right now is that we are really hard-working and we do all that we can to play together,” said Doyle. “We want to focus on maintaining intensity and be willing to work for each other and sacrificing for each other in order to help better the team. We just want to make others around us better.”
Along with the three captains, DS will rely heavily on the play and the voices of rising-sophomores Kate Mastrobuono, Hope Shue, and Annie Parizeau.
“Kate will definitely have a big voice on the field,” said Balmer about her teammate. “We’re juniors and we’re the captains who have a voice, but we also need the sophomores to have a voice, so I definitely think that Kate will be that type of underclass leader for us. Hope Shue is going to be big for us, as well, and Annie Parizeau is really solid at the center-mid.”
Doyle says that her two fellow captains anchoring the center-mid will also have a big impact for their team.
“Carolina and Cerys in the center-mid will play a huge role for us,” said Doyle. “We like what we have there and our freshmen look pretty strong this year.”
DS opened its season on the road at Dedham on September 5 and will welcome in arch rival Medfield for their home-opener on September 7.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.