Lady Hornets enthusiastic about the upcoming girls varsity soccer season
Lesley Freer is entering her first year as head coach of Honesdale's girls varsity soccer team.
A former player herself, Freer has deep ties to the Red & Black program having served as an assistant to longtime skipper Eric Eisele.
Eisele stepped down at the end of last season after 20 years of coaching. He leaves Freer with a well-stocked roster led by eight battle-tested seniors.
“I'm very excited about this opportunity,” Lesley said during a break in Wednesday's practice. “We have a veteran team and a solid nucleus of returning players. I can't wait to see what these girls can do.”
Honesdale will hit the road Saturday morning for a scrimmage with Crestwood. Action gets underway at 11 a.m. in Mountain Top.
Regular season action begins Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Delaware Valley. That contest is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.
Off & Running
Honesdale got out onto the field for an exhibition game Tuesday morning and turned in a solid all-round performance.
The Lady Hornets hosted this scrimmage against Nanticoke and battled their way to a 1-0 victory.
Dalen Banicky hammered home the lone goal of the match, unleashing a laser beam from just outside the 18. The senior middie's unassisted tally proved to be all the support rookie keeper Allison Billard would need.
“I'm very pleased with the effort I saw out there,” Coach Freer said. “Our girls gave it 100 percent all the time. They never let up and that's something you love to see as a coach.”
In the run-up to this first scrimmage, Freer's introduction to the job came two weeks ago at the annual Lackawanna League Media Day luncheon.
This year's edition of the event was held at the Regal Room in Olyphant and was attended by every team in both divisions.
Lesley chose Natalee West and Lilah Carmody to be Honesdale's player representatives. Both are seniors and each has been named a captain for 2019.
Carmody is a returning starter in the midfield.
“Lilah has grit,” Coach Freer said. “She digs deep and never gives up. Lilah is like a bee buzzing in your face all game long. She plays excellent defense, but she's a real threat to attack and score too.”
West anchors the back line from her position at sweeper. Natalee is a multi-sport standout who also played a key role in the Lady Hornets' run to the state semifinals in softball last spring.
“One of the things I like about Natalee is that she sees the field so well,” said Coach Freer. “She's a very smart player and a good communicator.
“Natalee is strong and fast and she keeps everyone in the right position.”
Honesdale qualified for the District Two playoffs in Eisele's final season.
Unfortunately for the Lady Hornets, they were given a low seed, which meant a first round match with perennial powerhouse Scranton Prep and an early exit from the bracket.
Coach Freer believes this experience made her girls stronger and lays the foundation for a deeper playoff run this fall.
“That's our number one goal,” she said. “We want to get a higher seed and make it past the first round. If we do that, who knows how far we can go.”
In order to accomplish that goal, Honesdale will need to fill a gaping void left after the graduation of all-stars Sadie Wood and Mackenzie Meagher.
Billard is already making headway in replacing Wood between the posts.
“Allison worked very hard during the summer,” Coach Freer said. “She has some big shoes to fill, but she's doing a great job.
“Allison is very dedicated. She's starting to be more vocal and take charge out there, which is something a keeper really needs to do.”
The prevailing opinion around the LSL is that Division I will be well-balanced this fall.
Prep ran away with the title last year, powering its way to a 13-1-0 record. The Classics were followed by Wallenpaupack Area (11-3), Abington Heights (9-5) and DV (7-6-1).
If Honesdale is serious about taking its game to the next level, the team will need solid leadership and key contributions from its seniors.
This year's group includes: Sophia Goyette, Grace Mead, Tara McLaughlin, Hannah Langendoerfer, Elizabeth Boumil, Banicky, West and Carmody.
“We were a defensive team last year,” said Coach Freer. “This year, we're working very hard on being more offensively-minded.”
Lesley's goals are simple and straight forward for this team in her rookie year at the helm.
“First and foremost I want the girls to have fun,” she said. “I want to grow the program and if we're having fun I think that will take care of itself.
“I'm really looking forward to getting out there and being competitive.”