ELLICOTTVILLE — With a strong core returning from a 10-win team, the Ellicottville girls soccer team looks primed to keep running in coach Tammy Eddy’s second season.
Eddy, a former player of legendary ECS coach Mary Neilon, stepped into Neilon’s shoes last season and upheld the program’s high standards, going 10-4-3 with a CCAA East league title.
Now, with a roster of 18 players, 12 of whom played last year and 10 were either starters or key reserves, Eddy thinks this year’s team can compete for the league, and perhaps even further. As New York started the season late due to COVID-19, all teams play a condensed schedule, and no state or regional playoffs. But Ellicottville still hopes to compete for a Section 6 Class C title. The section shortened its playoffs by allowing only teams with a .500 or better record into the postseason.
“Obviously we would like to win our league again and definitely make it through playoffs into sectionals,” Eddy said of the team’s 2020 goals. “I feel like this team has what it takes, but you take everything game by game. There are no regionals, there are no states this year, so our ultimate goal is to be section champions.”
ECS has seven seniors on the roster, including four who started games last season: midfielders Hayly Fredrickson and Courtney Sexton, and defenders Logan Fredrickson and Sammi Lin.
Mandy Hurlburt, a 2019 Big 30 All-Star, returns as a junior after leading the team in scoring with 16 goals and two assists as a junior.
Fellow juniors Jocelyn Wyatt (5 goals, 4 assists last year) and Emilee Ruiz (4 goals, 5 assists) were also among top scorers for the 2019 team.
“I have seven seniors and two of them are volleyball players that joined us, which we're excited about. It's nice to give these kids an opportunity to play,” Eddy noted when identifying the team’s leaders. “I've got my leading scorer back, Mandy Hurlburt; Hayly and Logan Fredrickson, Elsa Woodarek, Em Ruiz, I just have a good core coming back that are really going to help carry this team. The few new ones that we're adding are strong, so I'm excited about this.
“We definitely have some experience on our side. We lost a few key seniors last year, the biggest area that we're looking to fill is our keeper position. But we have a couple good options that are working hard to fill that spot. Other than that, we're pretty solid and I'm looking forward to hopefully another successful season again this year.”
Senior Jenna Hadley, who normally plays volleyball in the fall, came out for soccer after the state athletic governing body moved her sport to the spring. She started at goalkeeper for the Eagles and earned a shutout in the season opener.
Teams were not allowed to meet officially — on school grounds or with coaches — until the official start of practice on Sept. 21. While coaches gave workout instructions to help athletes stay in shape, their preparedness remained uncertain until then.
“My team has come prepared and they're in great shape and I've got some speed that I'm looking forward to seeing how they utilize (in our season opener),” Eddy said on the day of ECS’ first game. “I feel like they're ready to rock and roll. This week will be a true test: we have three games this week, so to have a shortened summer workout and preseason that we did, this will be a true test to see if they're ready to tackle three games this week.”
The Eagles appeared to more than pass the test, opening 3-0 with wins over Portville, 2-0; Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 3-1; and Salamanca, 5-1.
For Eddy, the biggest question mark was how the Eagles would fill in new starting spots.
“I think replacing a few new players, we just need to come together as a team, as a solid unit,” she said. “Any time you graduate seniors and have new people filling positions, that team chemistry is always in question, but I really feel like these girls are all in it, they've got positive attitudes and a strong work ethic. I feel like it's going to come together, but it just might take a few games and having three games in a week, we have to make sure we're in game shape. Practice is one thing, but an 80-minute game is a whole new ballgame especially three in the first week.”
2020 Ellicottville girls soccer schedule
(All games 4:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted)
6 — Portville (W, 2-0)
8 — at Falconer/Cassadaga Valley (W, 3-1)
10 — at Salamanca (W, 5-1)
13 — Franklinville
15 — Randolph
17 — at Cattaraugus-Little Valley, 11 a.m.
20 — at Gowanda/Pine Valley, 5 p.m.
22 — at Portville, 5 p.m.
24 — Falconer/Cassadaga Valley, 11 a.m.
27 — Salamanca
29 — at Franklinville
31 — at Randolph, 11 a.m.
3 — Cattaraugus-Little Valley
5 — Gowanda/Pine Valley, 5 p.m.