By John Torsiello
Jim Bayer’s recent message to the Simsbury High School girls soccer team was clear and straightforward.
“I told the girls at the end of this year, one of the goals each season is for them to leave the program better then they found it. I think the girls did that this year.”
The Lady Trojans finished the year 8-6-4, a mark that included an impressive win over Darien in the Class LL state tournament. Simsbury’s season was ended by Northwest Catholic in the next round, a team that Simsbury had tied and lost to during the regular campaign. Four of the team’s six losses were by a single goal.
Said Bayer, “We fell a little short of our stretch goals but we clearly made positive strides. Our league play improved and we showed we can compete with Northwest Catholic, Hall, and Farmington, having tied each of them once during the season. We won a tough first round road game in the tournament and we finished stronger in the second half of the year then the first half.”
Bayer called his team’s 2-0 victory over Darien its most significant victory of the season.
“They were a 12 seed and we were the 21 seed and we had to go to their place. They are an FCIAC (Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference) team, which has a reputation similar to our league of having strong teams. I think our three league ties against top teams are also right up there.”
Key players for the Lady Trojans this season included four senior captains–Kelly McAlpine, Megan Hanshaw, Caroline Murphy, and Sydney Shudginis, “along with our entire defensive unit,” said Bayer.
Shudginis had 13 goals this season, 10 in the second half of the year, which “really helped the team’s success,” said the head coach. “The defense allowed just 15 goals in 18 games.”
Hanshaw and Shudginis made All-North Central Connecticut Conference, while McAlpine was honorable mention. Shudginis was also selected for the All-State team and will play in the Senior Bowl.
Said Bayer, “We had a number of players transitioning to the varsity level for the first time and the entire group did very well. The team chemistry was positive all season.”
Simsbury has a strong core of players returning in 2014, 15 in all.
“Six are rising seniors who have been on the team since their sophomore years and our goalkeeper, who has been the starting varsity keeper since her freshman year. We have a strong group of rising juniors also returning.”
He added, “The goal next year will be similar to this year–to leave the program better then they find it. Next year’s team should be very good and I am optimistic that they will do well.”