In 2011, Cooperstown’s girls suffered through an injury-plagued 2-13-1 season, but the suffering may have come with a silver lining.
The injuries, both before and during the season, gave the Redskins lots of chances to promote younger players and give them experience.
That’s coach Jennifer Pindar’s hope as Cooperstown enters a new division, where every rival seems to be a top team in the section as well.
“They’re all tough teams,” she said of the new allignment that has Cooperstown in Division III of the Center State Conference with Morrisville-Eaton, Mount Markham, Sauquoit Valley and Waterville. “It seems like the Center State Conference is tough in all four divisions every year, and this year is the same.”
The Redskins’ key loss from last year was Katelynn Kiuber. Kiuber started the year at goalie, but injuries forced her into the forward position, where she scored eight goals and had five assists.
Filling in for Kiuber in goal was then-freshman Katie Kleban. In her sophomore season, Kleban will benefit from the experience she gained under pressure last season.
“She’s a good athlete, you can see that,” Pindar said. “She’s actually a very good goalie, and she has the potential to have a very good season.”
The Redskins have seven seniors, including co-captains Alannah Haggerty, Steffaney Wilcox, Alexis Bloomfield and Noelle Palmateer.
Haggerty missed soccer season last year rehabbing a torn ACL and meniscus, but returned for basketball and was a Daily Star All-Star in softball. Playing midfield or forward, her athleticism will be key for the Redskins.
Palmateer starts at center midfield and is a solid pressence in the middle. She can also play forward, and as she did Tuesday against Morrisville-Eaton, will be needed to score goals.
Bloomfield at sweeper and Wilcox at fullback are key to the Redskin defense.
Also back for Cooperstown is senior midfielder Julie Dykstra, who led the team in scoring last year, and junior forward Maggie Hall.
Hall was also an All-Star in softball, and is one of the team’s leaders on the field.
Cooperstown started the season last Tuesday losing a non-league game to Little Falls 4-2. The Redskins led 2-1 at halftime on goals by Haggerty and Ellen Vibbard. Hall assisted on Haggerty’s goal and Haggerty assisted on Vibbard’s. Kleban had 20 saves in the game.
On Tuesday, the Redskins opened league play with a 6-3 loss to visiting Morrisville-Eaton. Cooperstown fell behind 4-0, before a pair of goals in a three-minute span by Palmateer made it 4-2. In the second half, Christina Noto scored for the Redskins, which got nine saves from Kleban.
“We had a much better second half, than we did a first half,” Pindar said. “We have to get into the mindset to be moving at all times.
“We have a lot of talented athletes,” she continued. “I like that we didn’t get down, and we fought back when things went wrong. We just have to continue to get better.”
The Redskins play today at Waterville, and travel to Hamilton on Monday before hosting Sauquoit on Wednesday.