WOBURN — Woburn High girls’ soccer coach Jenna Fralick already has a trip to the MIAA Div. 1 North semifinals and two postseason appearances on her resume, yet it is this year that she sees as the one that will begin to define her career with the Tanners, and it has her both excited and a little nervous.
This 2019 Tanners squad will be the first where all the players have pretty much only made an impact since Fralick became head coach.
Previous coach Mike Higgins took the Woburn girls program to unprecedented heights since taking over in 2006. In his time as coach, the Tanners made the tourney in eight of those 11 years; beat Winchester for the first time ever; swept the Sachems for the first time and were constantly in the Middlesex League or ML Liberty title chases.
What Fralick admired as much as the on-field success was the fact Woburn regularly was sending players to continue their careers in college. She and her sister Jodi were a big part of the success in the mid-2000s. Fralick wants this Tanner tradition while she is in charge.
“We have an entirely new team and a new dynamic,” said Fralick. “We have a new feel but we want to uphold the standards of the program set by Mike Higgins. I want my players to excel and go on to play in college.”
While there are about a dozen players back from last year, the Tanners graduated 13 seniors and lost 14 players, overall. They do not have any returning All-League players for the first time in awhile, and multi-year All-League players Allison Mogauro and Courtney Cronin will be difficult to replace.
This year’s captains are third-year players and second-year senior starters, Ashlyn Pacheco and Caroline Surrette.
“They are setting the tone for us and setting high expectations for the younger players,” said Fralick. “We have an aggressive team and I think we are going to score a lot of goals.”
Pacheco will be the leader in the middle at center halfback, while Surrette will be the leader on defense.
Surrette started on the outside, last year, but her experience moves her to center back, this season, where Mogauro and Cronin once patrolled. She has been dealing with a nagging injury but recent rest will have her ready to go full speed on Thursday.
“She’s resting up but is going to be ready to go full throttle on Thursday,” said Fralick. “I know she’s going to do a great job for us.”
The new Woburn defense will also include junior Shauna Cronin at one outside slot, a host of speedy, attack-minded outside backs vying for time on the other side and also providing depth. All are first-year sophomores and they include Deanna Dukas and Nehal Garg, and sisters Carley and Casey Dangora,
“They are as tough as they come,” said Fralick, of the Dangora girls. “Both possess a high-level understanding of the game.”
Jenna Taylor will be back in our midfield after being the only freshman field player to make the team, last year. She joins Pacheco in the middle and has all the tools to succeed in what could be a breakout season for her.
“I know she’s going to be a dangerous (on offense) and a key to our success,” said Fralick, of Taylor.
Freshman Collen Curran will occupy one of the outside halfback slots, while junior Autumn Comeiro and her sister, sophomore Meadow Comeiro, have also been strong in the midfield for the Tanners.”
“I’m excited to see how they compete and work together,” said Fralick, of the new midfielders.
Woburn will have a knew keeper in sophomore Nicole McNaughton. Sophomore Emma Patrissi saw some action in net last year, but Fralick wants to try Patrissi at striker to take advantage of her aggressiveness.
Patrissi will join a front line that will feature junior twins, Bella Sgroi and Grace Sgroi, both of whom are in their third years on the team. They earned starting assignments late in the season, last year, at striker and midfield. This year they both will be up front, producing scoring chances and putting the ball in the back of the net.
Also in the offensive mix are juniors Mackenzie Russo, Bridget Guiendon and Christina Negri.
Two other freshmen made the team as well. Cyndea Labissiere brings lots of speed to the attack, while Hannah Surrette adds depth to the center midfield.
Woburn tied St. Mary’s and beat Waltham in its two full-length scrimmages. Saturday the Tanners faced some strong south sectional competition in Bishop Feehan and Medway at their jamboree. They lost one and tied the other.
“We were moving people around and trying to figure out where everyone fits,” said Fralick.
Woburn has some really tough teams to deal with this year with Winchester, Arlington, Belmont, Reading and Lexington in the ML Liberty division. The Tanners will try to get some momentum going with their three ML Freedom games to start the season.
“I’m confident we’ll hold our own against the big wigs in the large (Liberty) but we’re not looking past anyone,” said Fralick. “Every minute of every game is going to be important if we’re going to get back to the tournament. We have to be prepared and put the ball in the back of the net and I think we have the tools to do so.
“We clearly lost a couple of the strongest players Woburn has ever had, last season,” Fralick added. “But we are ready to come back and compete and play good soccer.”
The Tanners will get things started, Thursday afternoon (4 p.m.) with a game against Burlington at Brush Field.