by Ken Brown
CRAFTSBURY – The Craftsbury Academy’s girls’ and boys’ soccer programs both have reason for optimism this fall as they’ve seen an uptick in participation numbers early on in practice.
Tom Silva enters his third season as head coach of the Lady Chargers as he continues to rebuild a program that was brought back from the dead with eighth-graders and freshmen three years ago. He lost only two seniors to graduation in Ashley Princ and Lilly Williams and returns an athletic core that now has varsity experience under its belt.
“We have fourteen to fifteen multi-sport athletes this year who are just a great group of girls, come to practice with great attitudes, and they know they are improving every day. We don’t feel like we are in survival mode anymore like we were the first two seasons as we tried to get this thing off the ground. They are a hungry group who want to make the playoffs again and advance this year. We are extremely fit and athletic, and our defense is solid. We just have to continue working on the art of getting the ball in the back of the net,” said Silva.
Silva will look to seniors Ida Eames and Maggie Royer for leadership as they anchor the backfield and midfield and sophomore Sadie Skorstad is showing signs of being that elusive goal scorer upfront, finding the back of the net in their first scrimmage against Burke Academy last week. Freshman Rachel Bailey will replace Princ in net, with Ella Gillespie serving as the backup when she’s not patrolling the midfield.
“I was impressed with the girls’ fitness in our first scrimmage. We have athletes all over the field who can run all day and as a team our skills on the field have definitely improved. We have a challenging schedule ahead of us in the new Mountain League this year, but the girls are ready for the challenge, and we are excited for the start of the season,” added Silva.
Sam Jay will take over head coaching duties for the boys’ program this fall, replacing Tyler Blais. Jay coached the middle school program last season and has been involved and coached the game for several years. He takes over a program that is rebuilding and has struggled with participation numbers and results the last few seasons. The program only lost Logan Lanphere to graduation, however, and fifteen athletes have come out for the team so far this fall. Jay hopes to recruit more with school starting this week.
“Soccer has a big presence within this community, and it was great to see so many lads come out for the team. We are young and athletic, and a lot of these kids have great qualities and we’ll build the program on that. We have a lot of different skill levels, and we’ll work extremely hard with each individual to teach and develop their soccer skills. If we can set some goals and meet them individually, I think it will eventually lead to team success. It is a long and hectic season, but each game lends us an opportunity to work hard and improve as a team,” said Jay.
The Lady Chargers kick-off the season at Stowe on Saturday and the boys’ squad will host Richford on Friday in their season opener.