Ocean City Today

Players clicking faster than coach expected

By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Aug 31, 2017
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli Stephen Decatur junior Sofia Gordy control the ball during the team’s playday in Berlin last Saturday. Compared to last year’s group, this season’s team has a “totally different dynamic,” Coach Maggie Berke said.

(Sept. 1, 2017) After graduating 15 seniors from last year’s team, Stephen Decatur girls’ soccer team Coach Maggie Berke didn’t know what to expect for the 2017 season. She was pleasantly surprised with the turnout of talented players.

“Coming into the season, I was definitely not sure what to expect with such a new team, but I’m definitely very pleased with how well they are already starting to figure each other out, find each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work together as a team,” said Berke, now in her fourth season as head coach. “They’ve clicked a lot faster than I expected them to. They all have very strong work ethics and they all want to perform well, so that helps. I’m looking forward to seeing how they improve and what they’re capable of.”

Only five of the Lady Seahawks on Berke’s 17-player roster are returning from last year when the team went 8-5. The squad’s season ended in the first round of the 3A East Regional tournament with a 5-0 loss to Northeast.

“We have five coming back. I’m very excited about the girls getting a lot more field time this year than they have in previous years,” Berke said of the varsity veterans. “‘[Senior] Emma Stubblebine is really strong in our defense. [Juniors] Mia Dill and Logan Townsend [will play] in the midfield and [senior] Hattie Brous and [sophomore] Gabby Izzett forward.”

Berke will rely on her returning players for leadership.

“My returners are definitely going to be my leaders,” she said. “We have a nice center line of returners with Mia, Emma and Hattie being able to kind of control the center of the field and be the eyes for everybody to look to and the voice for everybody to hear on the field.”

Stubblebine will control the defense at the sweeper position.

“Since I’m one of the furthest people back I can see the field more, I can see who is open, who needs to mark, what we need to work on and what we’re doing well,” Stubblebine, a two-year varsity player, said. “I’m really excited. I think it will be a fun season. We have a lot of new kids this year, so we need to come together as a team more and work together.”

While Stubblebine runs the back line, Brous will help the offense at center forward. They are the team’s only seniors.

“When I look back on the defense side, I can see where they should be pushing up and where they should be sending the ball, that way I can communicate with Emma,” said Brous, a member of the team for two seasons. “I’m really looking forward to this season because it’s like a whole new team since we graduated 15 last year. I’m excited to see how we do, and just have fun.”

Several of the new players will have key roles this season, including freshman Macy Dill, who joins the squad in the midfield.

“We’re excited to have her,” Berke said.

Sophomore Isy Kristick will play in the goal for Decatur.

“She’s really commanding the field coming in as a sophomore. We’re excited to have her as well,” Berke said. “I think she had some nerves to work out coming up and being one of the younger girls on the team, but she’s shown her talents and that she’s definitely a varsity player.”

With just five varsity veterans and 12 newcomers, Berke and her coaching staff have the opportunity to mold the players and try new things.

“That’s the hope. We’re young and fresh, which is kind of nice because they’ll be around for a couple of years,” Berke said. “They’re definitely young, definitely a lot of kinks to be worked out.

“Some of them have never played with each other so we’re definitely trying different things, moving people around. Kind of working it as we go,” she added.

Compared to last year’s group, this season’s team has a “totally different dynamic,” Berke said.

The Seahawks are also playing a different style of soccer than previous seasons, she added.

“They’re doing a lot more of taking touches and passing the ball to feet. It’s not as much putting the ball up to corner flags,” Berke said. “We don’t have necessarily the speed up top that we’ve had in previous years where we can play the long-ball game, so these girls are definitely more of the short game.”

Berke said the coaching staff and players have talked about being ready for big games this season against tough competition.

“We’re trying to take the Bayside [Conference title] back, hopefully, and working to get to a caliber where we’ll be able to compete higher in states,” Berke said. “I’m really pleased with everybody, how they’ve been able to kind of fill the positions and roles that we lost graduating 15 seniors. It’s a totally new team.”

Sept. 11: Easton, 5:30 p.m. (H)

Sept. 13: North Caroline, 5:30 p.m. (A)

Sept. 15: Queen Anne’s, 4 p.m (A)

Sept. 18: Wicomico, 4 p.m. (A)

Sept. 20: James M. Bennett, 5:30 p.m. (H)

Sept. 25: Snow Hill, 5:30 p.m. (A)

Sept. 27: Parkside, 5:30 p.m. (H)

Oct. 2: Kent Island, 5:30 p.m. (H)

Oct. 4: Wicomico, 5:30 p.m. (H)

Oct. 11: Mardela, 5:30 p.m. (H)

Oct. 13: James M. Bennett, 4 p.m. (A)

Oct. 16: Parkside, 4 p.m. (A)

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