Salamanca girls soccer

Pictured is the 2018 Salamanca girls soccer team. Front row (from left: Alex Ricketts, Rhayne Smith, Naiomi Ullman, Laila Zolner, Hayli Wilson. Second row: Alexis Palmeri, Heather Donaldson, Elizabeth Stewart, Holly McGonigle, Rachel Chamberlain, Emma Fiske. Third Row: Ryleigh John, Taylor Skinner, Sesilleya Slade, Marla Warrior, Aly Hill, Alicia Fiske. Missing from photo were coach Michelle Hill, assistant coach Brian Onuffer.

SALAMANCA — The last two seasons have been unkind to the Salamanca girls soccer team’s win-loss record, but strength in numbers and experience have coach Michelle Hill optimistic again to start 2018.

Hill lists 19 players on her roster, “a fantastic number,”she said, including six seniors. The Warriors hope to show their depth and how they’ve improved on two one-win seasons in 2016 and 2017 as they open the fall schedule.

“Honestly 18 is my ideal number,” Hill said.” So we have exceeded that and our modified program had over 30 signups. I don’t know where we’re at now that their season, their practices have started. So just number-wise, we are definitely in a positive place. We bring back a lot more experience this year. So that is going to be definitely huge in what we hope to see in improvement in our overall record.”

Salamanca started the year 0-3 with shutout losses at Bolivar-Richburg, then Falconer and Silver Creek in the annual Andrea Morton Memorial Tournament. The Warriors also scrimmaged B-R on Friday, using a tune-up against another team for the first time.

“I’m so excited about the opportunity to have a real live game situation, but it’s a practice,” Hill said before taking the bus to Bolivar last week. “So there’s absolutely no pressure. We can move people around, try different combinations of people. They can try things that we’ve done in practice that they don’t feel confident in, in a game situation, and there’s no repercussions, so no pressure. I love that. We only have two more practices before our first game so it will show us really what need to stress and focus on in those two practices before a game No. 1 of the season.”

Junior Aly Hill, a fifth-year varsity player, co-captains with senior Liz Stewart, both listed at defense/midfield. Sesilleya Slade, Naiomi Ullman, Taylor Skinner, Rhayne Smith and Heather Donaldson join Stewart as the squad’s six seniors.

“Liz Stewart is a phenomenal leader,” Michelle Hill said. “positive attitude, always has a wonderful work ethic, she’s a great peer teacher and she definitely is going to lead the way, not only just in practice but in game situation as well.”

Hill added that goalkeeper is the main position of need to fill after the graduation of three-year starter Lauren Crouse-Ruiz.

“We have two young women that are trying to work out goalkeeping and Lauren had done a phenomenal job for three years,” Hill said. “So that, definitely today in our scrimmage, will show us where we stand right here in this moment and how much work we’ve got to do to get them to where we need to be for game days.”