BOLTON LANDING - As Bolton Central's Girls Soccer team cruised to an MVAC Division II championship in 2008 for the third consecutive year, the future looked bright for the talented team - with core players expected to return for the 2009 season.
But the summer brought some unwelcome developments. Stellar player Liz Parker injured her knee during summer league soccer play, and talented teammate Justine Tiger moved out of the school district. These were on top of losing the team's leading firepower, Katie Bliley, to graduation.
Add the transition of the school into the tough Adirondack League, and the road to success seems formidable.
But the team is up for the challenges, Coach Grant Spaulding said. This season, he and Roca switched coaching roles for the school's two Varsity soccer teams.
Core 2008 team member Beth Fisher, however, is returning and she will be called upon to provide leadership, Spaulding said.
"Beth will need to have broad shoulders," he said. "And the other girls will have to step up."
Apparently, as is traditional in Bolton, the athletes will do what needs to be done to meet their goals, Spaulding said.
"I'm extremely pleased with my team - they're working very, very hard, and it's very exciting."
Although the players are relatively inexperienced, they are learning a lot and gaining skills while maintaining a positive, fun-loving attitude on the field, he said.
"They're young and experiencing growing pains - but we don't dwell on mistakes, we're always getting better," Spaulding said.
The team's three captains - Beth Fisher, Taylor Cronquist, and Grace Cady - are mentoring the younger players, Spaulding said.
"They are great leaders," he said. "It's like having three coaches with you."
Spaulding said teamwork is a traditional strength of the Bolton soccer squads.
"This year, we'll be stressing team defense - stopping the opponent then counter-attacking immediately before they can regroup," he said. "It takes time to learn, but that's the way we're going to be successful."
To be competitive in the Adirondack League, the team will have to keep up the work ethic they've already demonstrated in practice, Spaulding said.
"Everybody on the team plays hard, and they have to for every second for us to be successful," he added. "We cannot rest."