By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Westwood High School varsity girls soccer enters the fall of 2021 looking to rebound following a 2-4-4 record in 2020. Considering the changes to their schedule and the lack of a state tournament last season due to COVID, the Wolverines are expecting a resurgence with the rules going back to normal and the state tournament returning this fall.
Leading Westwood will be three senior co-captains: goalie Rachel Berliner, defensive midfielder Haley Jacobson and midfielder Sofia Roberts. Two more impactful returns for the Wolverines are junior wing Kella McGrail and junior midfielder Ava Connaughton.
Fresh off of a state championship in early July as members of the varsity lacrosse team, Connaughton and McGrail say they are looking to carry over their success on the lacrosse field and help Westwood girls soccer back to the state tournament in any way they can.
“Our expectations this fall are to get into tournament,” said Connaughton. "Within that, our goals for every game are to stretch the field, play through the middle, and most importantly score more.”
As for their training, McGrail and Connaughton say that the quick turnaround from lacrosse to soccer has allowed them to stay focused and keep their bodies in shape.
“Transitioning from lacrosse to soccer has not been too difficult because we are still in shape from lacrosse season,” said McGrail. “It was just the basic soccer skills that needed a little attention in between seasons. Our team actually just went to a soccer camp for five days, and worked hard to get our touches together. It was great team bonding”
“The training process has been good,” said Connaughton. “I went to Compete Strength & Conditioning throughout the summer with some of my lacrosse teammates and that process of going three times a week for sure helped me stay in shape and gain muscle.”
The MIAA changing its state tournament from the old sectional format to the new state-wide version has brought about excitement for many athletes across the state. Connaughton is no different, and says returning to play for a state championship this fall after not having the opportunity in 2020 will bring out the best in the Wolverines.
“The team is extremely excited that there is playoffs because it makes everything a lot more competitive,” said Connaughton. “It really sets a good goal for our team coming into the season.”
The Westwood girls will open the 2021 season at home against rival Norwood on September 8 at 3:45 p.m.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0