Head coach: Kellie Palmer (second season). Assistant coaches: Joe Mendonca Jr., Earl Palmer (volunteer).
Last year: Wheeler finished 2-14 and did not qualify for the ECC or state tournaments.
Returning to varsity:
Seniors: Kylie Groves (D-MF), Jessica Johnson (D, captain). Juniors: Addie Hauptmann (GK, captain), Katelyn Melinosky (MF) Madison Perkins (MF, captain), Leah Pion (D), Peach Schroeder (D). Sophomores: Eva Comeau (MF), Ava Davino (F), Brooke Dowrey (F-MF), Keelan Groves (D), Marissa Perkins (D).
New to varsity:
Freshmen: Ellen Anderson (F), Naomi Boord (D), Leah Cleary (MF), Katie Pierce (MF-F), Stella Mastroianni (F).
Outlook: The Lions will need to score more goals to improve upon last season’s two-win season — they scored just seven times in 16 games, and five of their losses were by one goal.
“It’s tenacity and confidence,” said Palmer, who scored 62 goals during her career at Stonington High. “I feel once we get that confidence it’s going to be a game-changer for us.”
Palmer said the Lions must also improve their ability to possess the ball, their first touch and switching the field.
“We hard to learn where the ball should go and not kick it right when we get it,” Palmer said.
Hauptmann, one of the top goalies in ECC Division IV, will be solid in the net. Boord will play center back as a freshman and will be joined by Pion and Perkins to form a solid group on the backline.
Maddie Perkins returns in the midfield.
Palmer added that she’s expecting a big season from Pierce, also a freshman.
“She is going to be a name to look out for this year. She has good foot skills and can work with Katelyn [Melinosky] and Brooke [Dowrey] to give us a very solid offense,” Palmer said.
Coach’s take: “I think it’s going to be different. I think we are going to surprise people if we can mesh. If we get into that kick-and-run stuff, we will get into trouble. I always say hard work will beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
— Keith Kimberlin