LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid girls soccer team is competing in a new league with a new coach, and the Blue Bombers have a lot of new faces who will need to step up after losing a host of key seniors who graduated.
Heather Brewer has taken over the head coaching reins from Olaf Carlson to lead Lake Placid in the Northern Soccer League, which is a combination of the Champlain Valley and Mountain and Valley athletic conferences. Brewer, who played soccer for four years at St. Lawrence University, served as Carlson's assistant for the past four seasons and was the head coach of Plattsburgh High School the year before that.
The Blue Bombers were in championship games the past two seasons, but will have a difficult road ahead this fall with the loss of eight seniors, including Brenna Whitney, their top scorer in 2010, and three of their four starting fullbacks. Only three seniors and seven players overall return to the varsity roster, which is 17 members deep.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
The Blue Bombers will compete as a Class C team in Division II against old CVAC foes Seton Catholic, Moriah, Ticonderoga and Northern Adirondack, as well as Chazy, Elizabethtown-Lewis and Willsboro, which all come from the MVAC.
"We did lose quite a few players," Brewer said. "We lost eight seniors, and although they weren't all starters, they contributed quite a bit to the team. We're still young. We're still learning where to be on the field."
Senior Ayla Thompson and junior Liz Leff are two players who bring experience back to Lake Placid on defense. Thompson is a fullback who returns for her fourth season with the Blue Bombers and Leff is an aggressive player anchoring the team at goalkeeper, a position she will be starting at for the third year. Both players earned all CVAC honors in 2010 and are team captains along with senior Natalia Smith.
The Blue Bombers had a young front line a year ago and may be even more so this year as Payton Barney is back as a freshman and the only returning forward. Brewer said midfielders who are expeted to make an impact this season are juniors Kendra Manning and Brooke Reid and senior Mackenzie Kemmerer.
While many teams in the Northern Soccer League are playing fewer games due to the merger, Lake Placid will be facing a full 16-match slate that includes 14 Division II matches and an interdivisional game each against rival Saranac Lake and AuSable Valley.
"Looking at the schedule, I don't think we are going to have any easy games," Brewer said. "Our stress is positioning and players looking to shoot. Being a young team, I think we will be a team that should improve during the season. I'm already seeing evidence of that since our first practice."