Honesdale's girls varsity soccer team is preparing for its first season of fall action, having moved from the Wyoming Valley Conference to the Lackawannna League.
HONESDALE — Eric Eisele has been a driving force on the local scholastic soccer scene for well over a decade now.
Honesdale's veteran girls coach begins each season with the same goal...no matter the context, circumstance or competition.
"Our first goal every year is to win the division championship," Coach Eisele told TWI Sports.
"Then, we take it from there. This year, I believe that's a very realistic goal. This team is fully capable of taking the division. It's a new league and a new season, but a lot of our opponents are the same."
Up until this year, the Lady Hornets have been members of the Wyoming Valley Conference and played in the spring. However, for myriad reasons, Honesdale has decided to change its allegiance.
Beginning next week, the Red & Black will compete in the re-vamped Lackawanna League, a circuit that moved all of its games to the fall.
Coach Eisele's girls have found a home in Division II, where they'll go head-to-head with such familiar foes as Western Wayne, Wallenpaupack Area, Delaware Valley and North Pocono.
"I'm really looking forward to the change and I believe the girls are too," he said. "One of the best things about it is that we'll be playing multiple games against our local rivals and we'll be cutting down on travel time in a big way."
Honesdale will open up its inaugural fall girls soccer season Tuesday, September 4th at home against DV. The Lady Hornets then travel to Moscow for a battle with North Pocono (Sept. 6th).
On the Pitch
The Lady Hornets struggled in the WVC's rugged Division III last spring.
Playing against the likes of Pittston Area, Hanover and Wyoming Seminary, the Red & Black managed just a 2-10-1 record. That mark left the local lasses tied for last in the division standings.
Without question, Honesdale had enormous difficulty generating offense in 2011. That's an issue Coach Eisele has addressed aggressively in training camp and one he feels is quickly being ironed out.
"We bring back all our starters and I'll be counting on them to step up," he said. "Everybody knows we had trouble scoring goals last year, but I think we may surprise some people this time around."
The mantle of leadership has been passed to a core group of eight seniors who should play major roles in whatever on-field success Honesdale may enjoy.
Seneca Propst (Striker), Kalean Bea (MF), Allyson Hicks (Striker), Alexis Burkavage (MF), Katelin Lemon (DEF), Carmen Francesco (DEF), Bridget Fennell (DEF), Rhea Fowler (MF) comprise the nucleaus of this senior-laden squad.
"Hey, this is a pretty talented group of kids who've been around the program for a long time," Coach Eisele said. "They know that they need to be aggressive and create scoring opportunities. I don't think we have one dominant scorer, but what we do have is a half dozen kids who could score five or six goals each."
Propst and Hicks should provide a potent 1-2 punch up front for the Lady Hornets.
Alison Martin will anchor the defense for Honesdale this season. Still just a sophomore, Martin is already showing signs of developing into a top-flight keeper.
"Ally's been looking great so far," Coach Eisele said. "I'm very comfortable with her back there. Ally has a nose for the ball. She's the kind of keeper who'll make all the routine saves and maybe one or two fantastic ones every game."
Propst, Burkavage, Fennell and Fowler are all returning all stars and each is expected to pick up right where they left off in WVS competition.
Seneca is a lightning-quick senior who possesses outstanding ball skills. She's explosive on the perimeter and fully capable of weaving her way through trouble in the midfield.
"She just loves soccer," said Coach Eisele. "Seneca has a terrific work ethic and she brings a great knowledge of the sport to the table."
Alexis is tall, rangy and a gifted natural athlete. She spent the majority of last season in the defensive backfield, but moves up for her senior season.
"We need her speed and athleticism in the midfield," he said. "Alexis is just too valuable to stay back there on defense. She has long strides and covers a ton of ground. I think Alexis could score some goals for us this year."
Bridget is a seasoned veteran who'll occupy a key role defensively again this fall. Fennell is one of Honesdale's fastest and most determined players.
"I don't think there are many girls tougher than Bridget," Coach Eisele said. "She's not the biggest kid on the field, but she plays with a chip on her shoulder and I love that. Bridget doesn't take anything from anybody."
Rhea is a silky-smooth ball-handler who drives enemy defenders crazy. Fowler will be a nightmare match-up for opposition coaches trying to gameplan for the Red & Black.
"She's been playing soccer for many years now and her game is pretty polished," Coach Eisele said. "Rhea is one of the best ball-handlers around. When she possesses it, very few people are going to get it away from her."