This past season, Lucey and the Spartans finished with a 13-4-4 record and were runner-ups in the Sunshine State Conference (SSC). Now their attention turns to the offseason, where they must plan to fill the holes left by departing seniors and transfer students.
“When we took a look at our needs after this season, we identified a number of areas that needed strengthening,” Lucey said. “It wasn’t just positional but also our mental condition that needed to be improved upon.”
The Spartans excelled on the offensive side of the ball this past season, averaging over two goals a game. However, Lucey is still looking for fresh young talent to complement the attacking force.
Head coach Gerry Lucey and his coaching staff have gotten eight National Letters of Intent (NLI) from athletes who will join the team next fall.
Signing for the Spartans is the versatile Maya Matouk. An experienced player from Trinidad and Tobago, Matouk has played at the international level for her country in World Cup qualifying matches and Caribbean tournaments. Matouk attends the renowned IMG Academy, where she has developed into a student of the game. A natural goal scorer, Matouk will fit nicely with the other attacking options that the Spartans have to offer.
Also signing with the Spartans is Florida native Rose Amato. Amato is a central forward from Sarasota who played for Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School and FC Sarasota, the latter of which she led to the State Cup Final Four. Amato is a physical striker and adds considerable depth to the position for Lucey.
Accompanying Amato and Matouk as signees who will bolster the attack are Shae McCarty of Chalfront, Pennsylvania and Heidi Snyder of Lakewood, California. McCarty brings a tall body to the Spartans’ roster and gives an aerial option for the team. Snyder is a quick player whose speed can give the Spartans an edge over opponents.
Altogether, the four will strengthen an offensive unit that implements a system of high possession and frequent creation of chances. “A focal point to our system is the technical and tactical awareness needed by our players,” Lucey said. This “tactical awareness” originates in the midfield and the roster is littered with players who can create chances to score. Gabby Russo and Amber Pennybaker have developed into premier wide players and central midfielder Lauren Moore led the team in assists (11) as team captain.
Adding to the options in the midfield, Madison Munroe of Kenosha, Wisconsin and Alexa Sheridan of Smithtown, New York both signed with the Spartans. Munroe is a talented left-footed player and has an ability to whip the ball into the box from the wider sides of the pitch.
Sheridan is an experienced central midfielder who has captained Smithtown High School West in all four of her years there. There she was named an all-league player and led her team to three league championships in her time there.
On the defensive side of the ball, starting senior Candice Shield is graduating but the future of the position looks bright. Freshmen centerbacks Madison Cox and Miranda Gonzalez paid huge dividends to limiting opponents to averaging less than a goal per game. Looking to make a similar splash in her debut year is Alison Robinson, who is among the others to have signed. A defender from Magnolia, Texas, Robinson is a strong physical force in the air and was named Defensive MVP for the All South Zone.
Accompanying Robinson as a defensive signing is Jessica Moreno of Temecula, California. Moreno is a seasoned defender who can play anywhere along the backline. She played club soccer for the nationally recognized club Carlsbad Elite and has international experience playing for her native country of Mexico, where she helped win the under-17 Women’s CONCACAF (North, Central American and Caribbean Confederation) Tournament.
With these eight new additions, the Class of 2015 is dripping with talent from top to bottom. Yet Lucey still believes there is more work to be done. “I am still looking for two to three top attacking players who can make an immediate impact,” Lucey said. “A couple of those may be transfer students and another will probably be an international student with national team experience behind them.”
If Lucey can find such players then he believes that the Spartans can return to the pinnacle of Division II soccer. “We have a strong core of players returning this fall and a talented incoming class who will help greatly in terms of impact and depth,” Lucey said. “If we can round out a very strong group with a few more additions then we will make a great effort to be back amongst the elite this year.”
Marcus Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com.