Sacred Heart soccer ready to take on the best

Convent of the Sacred Heart goalie Charlie Clark, a freshman, makes the save on the ball during Monday’s practice. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Convent of the Sacred Heart goalie Charlie Clark, a freshman, makes the save on the ball during Monday’s practice. — Paul Silverfarb photo

With a nice mix of experienced leadership and youth, the Convent of the Sacred Heart is looking to make noise this season in the Fairchester Athletic Association, as well as throughout New England.

“We have great heart on this team and all the kids here are really great kids,” first-year head coach Logan Condon said. “They work their tails off, so I am really excited. We’ve got a tremendous mix of veterans and new kids and the quality of play is probably the best I’ve seen since I’ve been here.”

This season, the Tigers have a new head coach, as Condon takes over the varsity squad this season.

“I am very proud to be the head coach here,” Condon said. “I’ve been at Sacred Heart for four years now and it’s an honor and travel through with the seniors now. It’s kind of like my graduating class. It’s nice to be able to have them on the field and teach them in a different type of classroom. It’s an honor, a privilege and I couldn’t be more excited about it.”

Condon will not be taking over a program that is rebuilding. In fact, with the talent on the roster, Condon has some high hopes for his Tigers.

“We have a great core group of young girls that have played at the club level and are coming through the varsity program here,” Condon said. “The enthusiasm here is great to see and they are very aggressive. They really take some chances. It’s funny because my veterans are on defense and youth on the attack.”

Leading the way for Convent of the Sacred Heart will be senior captain Colleen O’Neill. According to Condon, having O’Neill as the leader of the Tigers, both on and off the field, is crucial for the team’s success.

“She has a great drive,” Condon said. “She’s our engine and the captain and leads everybody. The importance that Colleen brings to the team is that she’s a natural leader. She leads through example and brings together a lot of the youth on the team and integrates them with the veteran players. She’s always there whenever any of the girls need something and she’s my glue to this team. Her role is very important.”

Sacred Heart senior captain Colleen O'Neill works the ball to a teammate during Monday's practice. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Sacred Heart senior captain Colleen O’Neill works the ball to a teammate during Monday’s practice. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Having the majority of upperclassmen on the roster that play defense couldn’t come up at a bigger time, as they are protecting Charlie Clark, who is playing goalie as a freshman. Clark has never played the goalie position before, but Condon said that she’s one of those special athletes who give it their all every moment.

“She’s a really tough kid and she’s doing a great job grasping the role,” Condon said. “Charlie has don a great job so far and has actually saved our butts in our first two games. She made some keys saves. She’s good going side-to-side, she is good going to the ground and has made a couple of great diving saves. She’s not afraid to be in front of the ball.”

“It gives Charlie confidence knowing that there are experienced players in front of her that can help her out if something goes wrong,” Condon said. “The defense also gives our young attackers confidence because they know that they can go out and do their job. They know that the defense will keep the opposition off the scoreboard.”

When it comes to defense, Sacred Heart has a plethora of talented leaders. Junior Emily Casper, the team’s vocal leader on defense, will be plying center back. Bringing her leadership and knowledge of the defense will be senior Jessica Newman, will also join Casper playing center back.

Fellow senior and returning starter Tara Hammonds will also be in the backfield this season; however, an injury has sidelined her throughout the early part of the regular season.

Playing outside back will be juniors Claren Hesburgh, Cate Capolongo and Alessandra Foley. Also playing will be freshman Julia Pogge.

“They bring that hard-hitting mentality to the outside position,” Condon said. “They run back and forth all day. They have constant energy. Julia is a freshman and new to the squad, but she’s tough as nails and really is doing a great job grasping the concept of being a varsity athlete.”

The Tigers’ midfield will be led by a triangle in the center. Junior Concetta Brusco is a three-year varsity player and takes the field as a defensive midfield, cleaning up anything that comes through and helps the defense.

In front of her is sophomore Kaitlyn Adamini, who Condon said is one of the team’s most technically gifted athletes on the roster and is a huge help for the forward line. In fact, in the team’s victory against Taft School, Adamini scored two of the team’s five goals.

O’Neill, a four-year varsity athlete, once again joins the midfield for her senior season.

Freshman Delaney Colaio will finally be playing this season for the Tigers and will be found at the wing forward position.

“She’s a great young athlete and we are happy to have her here,” Condon said. “We are happy to finally have her. She was here throughout middle school and was always around the varsity program, just waiting her turn. Now that she has her turn, she is making the most of it. She is an amazing athlete.”

A nice addition to the attack is sophomore Tracey Hagan, who decided to come out and play for Sacred Heart this fall after not playing at the club level last year.

“She wanted to be a part of Sacred Heart again and she’s been excellent,” Condon said. “She scored three goals in our first two games. She’s so quick with her feet and she has one heck of a shot on her. She links up with our midfield really well.”

When November comes around, Condon believes his Tigers have a solid chance to make some serious noise throughout the region.

“I think we have a great team,” Condon said. “With this mixture, I think we can do really well. You never know what the season is going to come to, but I am very blessed that in the four years that I’ve been here, this team has the making to be one of the best teams I’ve seen.”

Although it’s Condon’s first year at the helm, don’t expect him to be conservative with his team.

“We are a high-intensity team with a lot of energy,” Condon said. “It’s the way I like to coach my kids. Once we lose the ball, we try and get it back as soon as possible. It’s almost that swarm mentality. You lose the ball and almost immediately four girls are on you. We did that against Taft and that’s why we had so much luck.”

So far Sacred Heart has been playing at a high level. They opened their season with a monumental victory for the program, beating Taft School 5-1. The victory was the first time CSH has ever beaten Taft in soccer.

“It was really huge for us to beat Taft,” Condon said. “It showed me the types of players that we have. A week before, we played Chase Collegiate and we got hammered out there. To come back against a top opponent, and to do as well as we did, really showed me that they have the character to pick themselves up when they are down and to play together.”

The Tigers scored the first five goals of the contest, netting four of its goals in the second half. Admini and Hagan each scored two, while Colaio added the team’s other goal.

In net, Clark made five saves for the Tigers. Taft’s Becky Dutton made six saves in the losing effort. Sacred Heart finished the game with 15 shots on goal, while Taft added 11.

Close to 12 hours after the emotional win against Taft, CSH boarded the bus and headed three hours north to Newton, Mass., for competition against Newton Country Day School in the sixth annual Heart Connection.

Despite the fatigue, Sacred Heart fared well and came away with the hard-fought 1-1 tie.

“The team was good,” Condon said. “We showed a lot of heart and hustled around. We did the best that we could, but I think we were a little gassed after Friday’s win over Taft. We played well all the way around and I was still proud of the girls.”

Hagan was at it again and gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute. After the defense got the ball through the midfield, Hagan got a foot on the ball and slipped by several defenders around the 18-yard mark. She then got the ball to the corner and swatted it over the Newton keeper in the left corner of the net.

Newton scored its goal in the final minute of the first half to knot the game at 1-1. Clark finished the game with nine saves and CSH added 10 shots on goal.

Although Sacred Heart didn’t pull through with the victory, Condon couldn’t be happier with his team’s performance.

“Playing well in back-to-back games shows a lot of character for the girls,” Condon said. “The biggest thing I took out of this game was that the team was willing to go 100% after we played at such a high level for 80 minutes almost 12 hours ago. I am very excited about the effort we had against Newton.”

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