Graduation losses took a toll on the Beachwood girls’ soccer team but the Bison refuse to use the word rebuilding in looking ahead to the 2018 season.
First-year head coach Jonathan Kostoff has high expectations for his young squad, which will start at least three freshmen.
“We believe that despite losing five starters, six four-year letter winners and a total of nine seniors that this won’t be a rebuilding year,” Kostoff said. “The team expects to finish much better than last year’s regular season and compete in the conference to finish in the top half. We believe we will not only be competitive in every game but look to have over a .500 record.”
The Bison finished 5-9-2 overall and 1-3-1 in the Chagrin Valley Conference last fall.
Beachwood returns six starters and nine other letter winners, giving the Bison a solid core of experienced players ready to compete in 2018.
Still, Kostoff realizes his younger players will have to develop in a hurry.
“We will need an immediate impact from our underclassmen to learn on the fly quickly about playing in a varsity game and under the lights on the biggest stage,” he said. “We will have five or six freshmen on the roster including three starters. Leadership from our two captains that have played in three and four years of our varsity games will play crucial to helping our preparation. Being thin in numbers on the varsity team, staying healthy will play critical to how far we can go. A great start on the nonconference circuit will certainly set us up for success.”
Junior forward Carly Petti is a returning captain and she’ll once again be counted on to provide leadership and to find the net on a frequent basis.
She scored four goals and assisted on another in earning second team All-CVC and all-district honors.
“Carly is a terrific student-athlete,” Kostoff said. “She excels in the classroom as a two-time Bison Scholar-Athlete with a 3.5 GPA or higher and a letter winner. We look forward to a breakout season from Carly on the soccer field offensively and to help lead us to new heights for the program. She’s truly a hard-working and dedicated player and teammate.”
Junior defenders Miranda Luxenburg and Ashley Perryman also return after earning all-conference honors last season.
Luxenburg was named honorable mention after scoring one goal with two assists and Perryman was named honorable mention in the CVC and the district.
“Miranda is a tweener for us, playing both at the back and throughout the midfield,” Kostoff said. “A player whose experience we will heavily rely on this season, she’s a great student-athlete that excels in both areas and is extremely coachable and well beloved by her teammates. Ashley is one of the best, if not the best overall athlete at the high school. She has been a part of two state champion track teams as a key member of the sprints and sprint relays. Her leadership at the back is crucial to her success as well as her ability to get forward with speed that is unmatched.”
Senior defender Haleigh McPhillips is Beachwood’s other captain and a three-year letter winner.
“She is the anchor to our backline and the only senior on our roster with playing soccer experience,” Kostoff said. “She’s a strong, hardnosed, willing to step into any tackle type of player. She helped lead our offseason open fields/conditioning program.”
Kostoff also expects major contributions from junior Sophie Karl and sophomore Sunny Wang in the midfield.
Karl scored one goal last season while Wang finished with two and three assists.
“Sophie is a player every coach would love on their team. In the game, she’s quick, smart on and off the ball and technically sound,” Kostoff said. “Sunny is a player that is continuing to grow and blossom each day. Her attitude and determination to get better sets her apart. She is a quick player with great shot selection but also can set her teammates up nicely.”
Sophomore Madison Prince was injured for most of the 2017 season but she’s ready to protect the net for the Bison in 2018.
“I expect her to be competing for a spot on all-conference and district teams,” Kostoff said. “The sky is the limit with her talent.”
The Bison worked hard in the offseason to not only develop their soccer skills but also to generate a buzz around the program in an effort to build for the future.
“This is a team that loves showing up to practice every day and working hard to get better,” Kostoff said. “We are changing the culture and the mindset of our program one day at a time and working to be a powerhouse in the Division III circuit down the line competing for CVC and district championships.”