By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Like it does every season, Needham High School girls soccer enters the fall of 2021 with high expectations. Making this season unique, however, is its return to normalcy for fall athletics.
Like all high school soccer programs in 2020, the Rockets are coming off a condensed 10-game conference-only schedule without any type of postseason. Thanks to the vaccine roll-out throughout the past year, high school soccer will look a lot more like we’re accustomed to this fall.
Leading Needham in 2021 will be three senior co-captains: striker Maddie Ledbury, center-back Casey Rolfes and outside back Peyton Walker.
“Some general expectations we have coming into the season is first and foremost showing up to practices and working hard,” said Ledbury when asked for her team’s general goals and expectations entering the new season. “We have a high bar this season and we have to come to everything with a positive attitude and push ourselves and our teammates every session or match we have.”
Along with their core of captains, Needham also returns two seniors poised to take on leadership roles in outside forward Jackie Pucillo and center-mid Sophia Wolin. Also back are a trio of impactful juniors expected to see big minutes in outside forward Caroline Hood, center-mid Julia Bollas and outside back Maylin Carr. With a roster filled with experienced and talented players, a deep run in the new MIAA state-wide Division I tournament is something Ledbury says she and her group are striving to make happen during her final season of high school soccer.
“The excitement level is off the charts regarding getting back into play under regulation rules,” said Ledbury. “Last year, we didn’t have a state championship to work towards. But now we have a ton to work for and our 10 seniors are hustling as it is our last season of high school soccer that we’ll ever play.”
Needham will open the 2021 season on the road at Braintree on September 14 at 3:45 p.m.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.