By Bob York
Old Mother Nature certainly didn’t turn out to be a fan of Deerfield Academy girls soccer this year.
First, she combined with Tropical Storm Irene just prior to the opening of preseason training camp to turn the girls’ playing field into the bottom of the Deerfield River for about 10 days. But, in her defense, she can’t be accused of being sexist. She sent everyone on the lower playing fields – football, boys soccer, boys and girls cross country, and field hockey – in search of new digs for the entire season. Then, in late October and early November, more rain forced the Big Green to cancel three of its games, and they just happened to be “three games that I felt were quite winnable,” said Heidi Valk, the Big Green girls soccer mentor.
So, what Valk and her charges were left with was a 5-6-3 record, “But I’m happy with the season,” said Valk. “The kids battled every step of the way. They worked hard, they played hard, and they gave their best every time they went out on the field, so from a coach’s standpoint, I certainly couldn’t have asked for any more than that of them.”
A blend of both experience and youth finished atop the Deerfield stat sheet this fall as a senior and a freshman led the team in scoring. Paving the way was Connie Rhodes ’12, who tallied 12 points on five goals and seven assists, while Mercedes Fissore-O’Leary ’15 was second with 10 points on five goals and five assists. And both girls would later be named to the Western New England Prep School Girls Soccer League All-Star Team.
Other point producers for the Big Green included Vanessa Avalone ’13, who finished with six points on four goals and a pair of assists and who was elected co-captain of next year’s club along with Cate Wadman ’13. Samantha Chai ’15, meanwhile, had four points on four goals. Back on defense, key contributors included Libby Whitton ’12, Wadman, Caroline Coppinger ’15, and Julia Fissore-O’Leary ’15. Youth also ruled between the pipes this season, as Libby Murray and Maryanne Iodice, a pair of sophomores, split time in goal for the Big Green and combined for a goals against average of 2.5.
As for team honors, Rhodes and Whitton shared the Marjorie Ellis Cup.
“I’m already excited about next year,” said Valk. “We’ve got 13 players returning from this year’s team, and they all picked up valuable experience this season, so I’m really optimistic about our chances.”