Lady Lions soccer team finishedthird in 2010, runner-ups last year
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
The Lockport High School girls varsity soccer program has been taking giant strides in recent years under head coach Mike Finnerty.
Their next step is an obvious one.
The Lady Lions finished third in the Niagara Frontier League in Finnerty’s first year at the helm in 2010, then last year, the team finished 8-3-3 and were second in the NFL.
“Our goal each year has been to finish better than the previous year,” said Finnerty, whose team is preparing to host Niagara-Wheatfield at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in their 2012 league opener.
“Our goal this year is a championship. We’ve never won one before, so our goal is to get there,” he said.
Finnerty, who spent five years coaching the LHS boys junior varsity team prior to taking the girls varsity position, said the Lady Falcons will be among the NFL’s best teams in 2012, along with Grand Island and Kenmore West.
“Our first three games are our three hardest,” Finnerty said.
“Niagara-Wheatfield will be tough in our opener. They’re got many good players. Grand Island and Kenmore West should also be in the top four this year.”
Ken West claimed the NFL title last year with Lockport second and N-W third. The Lady Lions were ranked fourth in Section VI Class AA a year ago. Key losses to graduation include Marissa Wright, Emily Belfield, Cassondra Stolzenburg and Olivia Kurbs.
LHS graduated seven seniors in all last spring. You think that’s a lot? The year before, they graduated more, so the turnover has been substantial in recent years.
“The turnover is difficult, but because the girls are working out a lot in the offseason and playing in summer and winter leagues, they’re familiar with how we play, so the transition is easier,” Finnerty said. “This group of girls played travel ball together in the summer and won the Buffalo and Western New York girls U-19 title. And they also won the winter league title at Sportsplex. I’d say about 75 percent of them participated in offseason programs.”
Leading the blue and gold in 2012 are their five co-captains, seniors Kayla Guay, Emily Hillman, Carly Shank, Lauren Wager and Emma Yates.
Guay, Hillman and Shank are at midfield, Wager will play midfield and striker and Yates anchors the defense, but will also play defensive midfield. Another key defender is LHS senior Kerri Wertman.
A real treat for local soccer fans is freshman striker Gretta Dry, who brings tremendous foot skill and speed to the team.
“She’s our most skilled player — great foot skill and ball control,” Finnerty said.
LHS keepers are senior Bridget Masiello and sophomore Jayme Wadosky. Both have looked excellent, Finnerty said.