September 20, 2006

Southampton Girls' Soccer Preview Lady Mariners Will Look To Seniors

"I really believe that they can go undefeated in our league and I'm hoping to vie for the League VIII title." Those may sound like bold words from Southampton girls' soccer coach Ike Birdsall, that is unless one takes a good long look at the team he has returning this season.

With nearly the entire starting lineup back from last season's .500 team, the Lady Mariners appear to be one of the favorites to win the League VIII championship.

Sophomore All-League forward Jenna Arnister and senior forward Jackie Rodriguez are both speedsters that can fly down the field and complete a goal scoring surge in the blink of an eye. They are a lethal goal scoring combo and each possess the ability to break a game open. "Their speed is huge and Jenna is a great ball handler and dribbler while Jackie has a powerful kick," said Birdsall, who coaches the team with wife Sarah. "They're both great shooters on either leg."

First year player Jasmine Dyson is a natural athlete who can play forward and midfield and co-captain Desiree Halaka, a center-midfielder, can run all game and never seem to tire. Sarah Hatton, Southampton's other co-captain, plays center-fullback and sweeper because she's regarded as the Lady Mariners top defender.

Midfielder Teal Doherty, a senior, is an excellent ball handler that can turn a defensive situation into an offensive situation very quickly and Catherine O'Conner has emerged as a leader this year, working hard on her conditioning to become yet another impact player.

Freshman goalkeeper Miranda Alvarado is a tough player who has good instincts and positioning; returning fullback Imani Richardson is a speedster who can also play forward.

And Heather Sachtleben, another defender, "has a knack for clearing the ball out and tends to be in the right position at the right time," according to Birdsall.

Jessica Tortorice is a returning senior that plays wing and takes the corner kicks with Teal as well as the set balls and she'll be joined by seniors Sarah Giosca, Millie Egan, Deanna Anderson, Porsha Pettaway and Alex Page.

German exchange student Fede Gerlach, rapidly improving sophomore forward/midfielder Leanna Pascual and versatile freshman Maddy Johnson along with eighth grade identical twins Leandra and Nicole McGuinnes give Birdsall even more options off the bench as well as a strong nucleus of talent for the future. Southampton's junior varsity team is also very deep.

"We only lost two players to graduation and we're looking very strong," Birdsall said. "I expect very good things from them. There's a lot of enthusiasm on this team and a lot of expectations."

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