Lisa Wales got word that she’s the new head coach of the Marblehead High School (MHS) girls varsity soccer team just last Wednesday, succeeding John Dormer after he was let go amid controversy.
With tryouts just five days later on Monday, Wales understands she has to hit the ground running to get to know the personnel. But the good news is that she already has a familiarity with the team, having served in the Marblehead Youth Soccer Association as a coach and age group coordinator throughout the past decade.
“The goal this year is to move forward as a team,” said Wales, who added that she enjoys working with student-athletes, and wants to be a positive role model for them.
Wales grew up in Newton and attended Newton South High School, where she played soccer, lacrosse and basketball. She moved on to Connecticut College to continue both her soccer and lacrosse careers, and was a captain of both squads during her senior campaign. She was also named Regional All-American in soccer at the conclusion of that season.
When her kids, Caroline and Ben, came of age to start playing youth sports, she got involved with Marblehead Youth Soccer in 2008. It has historically been a tremendous feeder system for the high school soccer programs, and Wales expects that to continue.
“Marblehead Youth Soccer has always been a strong program, and the commitment to the sport the players have had on the high school level was first developed down there,” Wales said.
The first-year varsity coach welcomed 60 to tryouts on Monday, 13 of them were returning veterans, who finished up last year with a 9-4-5 regular season record, before losing to host Stoughton, 1-0 in the first round of the state tournament.
Goalie Kate Burns, Talia Selby and Grace Mortensen are this year’s captains. Amy Gochman is the varsity assistant coach. Veterans School teacher Phil Witt is in charge of the JV1 team while Brown School kindergarten teacher and former MHS athlete Abby LeBlanc, a 2014 graduate and Navy veteran, is calling the shots on the JV2 club.
With Burns in net and Selby in front of her anchoring the defense, opposing offenses will be hard-pressed to get many scoring opportunities this fall. At the other end of the field, sophomores Sadie Halpern and Sydney Ball will be factors on offense, along with Mortensen.
“I think we have a healthy number of players this year who can play,” said Wales, who’s now a self-employed personal trainer who worked at Leap Fitness for 10 years. “But they can’t all be on the varsity.”
Wales promises they will be competitive in every game this coming season, and she will get a better understanding of what she has once the scrimmage season begins on Saturday, Aug. 26, at home against Pingree, starting at 2 p.m. They will be at Rockport on Sept. 2 for another exhibition, beginning at 10 a.m. The regular season gets underway at Beverly versus the rival Panthers on Sept. 8 at 4 p.m.