Lady Tigers must replace goal scorers
All Northwestern Lehigh girls soccer head coach Kelly Bleam has to do is replace over sixty goals that lost from the graduation of Sara Hathaway and Maggie Motolese. And replace pretty much her entire defense. If that happens, the Lady Tigers, who finished 12-4 last season, will be fine. No problem, right?
Actually, the process is going pretty well and both the coach and the players are optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We have a daunting task of replacing a lot of goals, something like 67 goals between Sara and Maggie,” said Bleam. “The two of them are going to be very difficult to replace, not only for the goals, but for the way that they defend and how they were leaders on the field.
“It’s going to be a challenge. We’ve definitely found very capable girls who can fill in those spots and they’re very eager to get the job done. I’m hoping that it won’t be as daunting of a task as it may seem. I think these girls will make the task a lot less daunting.”
The defense was also hit hard by graduation, with four defenders – three of whom saw significant minutes – gone off to college. The Tigers do have goalie Lauren Terrell returning for her junior season and a newcomer in freshman Naomi Glassberg, who will also see some time in goal.
“Our whole midfield – except for Maggie, who I think of as more of a forward – is back, so that’s a positive,” said Bleam. “We definitely have a lot of rebuilding to do both in the back of the field and up front, but I like what I see so far. I like the mindset for sure and how quickly the girls are applying what is being taught at practice.”
The players are up to the task of replacing the big names from last season and see a lot of young players who are stepping into new roles, some playing varsity for the first time, and will contribute to the success of the Tigers. Hallie Bleam, a senior, is also fitting into a new role as a team leader for her senior season and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
“It’s a different role and it’s kind of surreal that it’s my senior season, but it’s fun,” said Hallie Bleam. “I like leading the team and I think it’s a great group to work with and we’re all friends and get along great together, so I think it’s going to be a great season.
“Honestly, we’ve got a lot of depth and young talent, especially in the midfield. We’ve got so many players who are good and can play well, so I think we’ll be OK scoring goals.”
As for playing on the new turf field, coach Bleam has had her players delivering passes with a little more energy on the grass practice field to help get players used to the ball coming in a little harder like it will on turf. While they didn’t have turf at home, the team has often played on turf at visiting fields, so it’s not like it will be completely foreign to the players.
As a player, Hallie Bleam is excited to have the turf in time for her senior season and sees the benefits that it gives to the players.
“It’s going to be a great change,” said the senior midfielder. “We’ve got a lot of skilled players who can play well on turf and it’s going to be great.”
The team will start the season with four home games. Nonconference games against Blue Mountain and Scranton Prep will be Friday and Saturday and the Colonial League schedule opens with Salisbury next Tuesday and continues with Palmerton next Thursday.