As his 2015 team prepares for its season-opening match at Merrimack High School on Sept. 1, Pinkerton Academy veteran girls’ soccer coach Steve Gundrum can derive comfort from the fact that a slew of skilled players from his superb 2014 crew are back in the fold and ready for another run at a Division I title.
The soft-spoken Gundrum will be the first to say that there’s a huge amount of work to be done before he and his Lady Astros can even contemplate hoisting a championship plaque overhead. But any coach would be overjoyed to have 16 battle-tested veterans back from a squad that went 14-5 the season before and got as far as the Division I final four.
Among those 16 players are 10 returning starters, including seniors Keara Doolan (midfielder), Catherine Goodwin (defense), and Sammy Mitchell (goalie).
The returning junior starters include forward Julia Bousquet, defender Megan Jarvis, and middies Nicole Gonya, Mel Roberge, Reanna Romaro, and Courtney Velho. Nicole Alves is back at forward as the lone returning sophomore starter.
Other players who come back with important varsity experience to their credit are seniors Erin Batchelder (defense), Molly Gingras (keeper), Kyra Goucher (middie), and Emily Hallee (middie), junior Kyra Stariknok (middie), and sophomore Brittany Johnson (defense).
The crew of promising newcomers includes seniors Christina Ridenour (middie) and Kasey Russo (defense), sophomore Abby Jepson (middie), and freshman Katie Ziniti (middie).
When asked what his 2015 team’s keys to success will be, Gundrum said, “As always, no injuries, finishing opportunities, and a bit of luck.”
The veteran Pinkerton Academy mentor anticipates that Exeter, Bedford’s Lady Bulldogs, Manchester Central, Bishop Guertin of Nashua, and Londonderry’s Lady Lancers will be among the upper-echelon contingents this autumn.