BY TIM TAYLOR
Tioga County Sports Report
SPENCER — SVEC found its groove in the latter part of the 2018 season. With a solid lineup back, the Eagles hope to continue to compete in 2019.
SVEC should be a Section IV Division 3 contender, returning several players. Senior forward Ryleigh Clark and junior back Andrea Douglas, both of whom were first-team divisional all-stars. Also back are junior back Cora Sousa and sophomore goalkeeper Bella Young, each a second-team selection.
"I have 12 returners, which is great, and then I have a few additions that I'll bring up," head coach Abby Gentile said.
"She'll be a force on the front end," Gentile, said of Clark. "My returning goalie, last year was her first year. She did great, so I think she's going to really lead from the defensive end and I have Andy Douglas back on defense."
Young split time in goal with Jenna VanGalder last year, but could spend more time in front of the box this year.
"I do have an eighth-grader that I brought who played JV goal last year and did a phenomenal job, so depending on how the games are going and depending on the freshness on the field — if I needed to bring in one of them onto the field, both of them will be able to play, which is great. They can play any one of the 11 positions, not just 10."
One hole to fill will be in the midfield where first-team all-star Madison Sousa stood out. Gentile has several players to choose from to fill that void and any others.
"Our numbers are good," she said. "We have probably, I think, 26 between JV and varsity, so we're going to field both teams and I think we're going to be competitive on both teams, so that's good."
"I believe they have high expectations," Gentile said. "Making that sectional last year, they just want to do it again and they set their goal even further. Instead of just making sectionals, we want to win a game at sectionals.
"I keep telling them the division is up for grabs. There's five or six teams in our division, but anyone of them could do it and there's no reason that we can't."
Defending division champion Moravia, which suffered its first Section IV loss last year to SVEC, lost six of its seven sectional all-stars to graduation, drawing the Blue Devils back to the rest of the pack. Meanwhile, Newark Valley, Tioga and Marathon lost just one all-star apiece to graduation.
"They're optimistic," Gentile said of the Eagles. "They're working hard."<br><br>——————<br><br>PHOTOS BY TIM TAYLOR
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