NIAGARA FALLS — Every team has high hopes when it starts the season, but the Grand Island girls soccer team wants nothing short of perfection.
Despite an impressive 17-1-1 season last year, the Vikings say there’s plenty of work left to do.
“They looked at it and said that’s no good enough,” Girls soccer coach Dave Bowman said. “When you look at a 17-1-1 record that’s a tough thing to say, but the girls honestly believe that.”
Grand Island lost their only game of the season to Aquinas and tied Williamsville South, but they’ve already knocked off Aquinas this season and are hoping that 1-0 win is the start of a Niagara Frontier League title run and beyond.
“They want to get to that next level,” he said. “They ultimately want to get to that Section VI game, then they want to get to that regionals, then get back to states.” High hopes for a team that lost its starting goaltender to graduation, but the Vikings have a strong core on the back end.
With goaltender Kristin Wegrzyn lost to graduation, Stephanie Senn will move from midfield and into the penalty box for the Vikings.
“Stephanie Senn has moved to the net for me this year, which is her natural position,” Bowman said. “She’s going to be one of the top goalies in the area, but she was talented in the field as well.”
Bowman said his defensive scheme won’t change that much, but losing Senn in the field will mean shuffling a few players around. Two-time all Western New York and fourth team all state Jeannie Taylor will patrol the back end for the Vikings, but their offensive threat is what opposing teams fear most.
“The name that everybody knows is Jenna Raepple,” Bowman said “She’s back this year as a senior and she’s bigger and stronger.” Raepple is a two-time all WNY and first team All-State standout that led the NFL in scoring last season with 25 goals and 19 assists.
“She’s going to be someone that’s tough to stop,” Bowman said, “ and what’s nice is that I’ve got a handful of girls around her that can fill in the gaps so we’re not relying on Jenna solely.”
Bowman said all of the 19 girls on his roster play soccer elsewhere on club teams throughout the region, which makes them an experienced group that will be tough to beat.
“When they come to me it’s just a matter of getting them all rolled together as to where we need them to play and what type of system they run,” Bowman said.
“I don’t know what it is about the Island girls but they stay motivated,” he said. “They stay with it.”