LYNNFIELD — If experience counts for anything, look for this year’s Lynnfield girls soccer team to turn a few heads – not only in the Cape Ann League, but well beyond.
The Pioneers graduated only two seniors from the 2022 team – captains Maggie Ozanian and Trinity Gesamondo, who is a freshman on the Buffalo State College women’s soccer team.
With 16 returning varsity players, the Pioneers are primed to contend for a league championship and make a deep run in the Division 3 state tournament. Last year, they finished the regular season 8-6-4 only to be eliminated in round one of the tournament by Swampscott, 1-0.
But this year, Coach Mark Vermont, who led the Pioneers to back-to-back state titles in 2003 and 2004, is hopeful that this year’s team might be on the verge of something special.
“Tryouts have been going well. What’s great is we had a lot of kids whose skill levels have really gone up, so it’s good competition.” said Vermont, who is now in his 23rd year as head coach. “Last year we were a young team but this year we are a much more veteran team. So far, I like what I’ve seen.”
This year’s team will be led by senior captains Ava Gamache, the starting goalkeeper, and defenders Keely Briggs and Ally Sykes, who served as a junior captain last year. Vermont said the trio will anchor the back line.
“Ava Gamache in the net for us this year is going to be huge,” Vermont said. “I’m expecting a lot of people to contribute. In the back, everyone is returning except Maggie, but our whole back line is back. Other than her, we have three players returning in our backfield, so that’s an advantage to have all that experience coming back.”
Juniors Lily Rocco and Ariana Guarrancino will also see time in the backfield.
Juniors Clara Caulfield, Ella Hayman and Emma Rose, and sophomores Bella Sykes and Hannah Ozanian return as midfielders.
Vermont expects senior Catie Kampersal, junior Bella Carroll and junior Morgan Hubbard to be impact players offensively. Other returning players include seniors Megan Woods and Addison Connelly, and junior Katie Connelly.
“North Reading is going to be excellent. Newburyport is always solid. Triton will be tough,” Vermont said. “And now Essex Tech is in the league. We had a tough 1-0 win against them last year. Overall, there never really are any easy ones.”
Lynnfield will open the season on Sept. 5 at Triton. The Pioneers have just two non-league games on the schedule; they host Danvers on Saturday Oct. 7 (10 a.m.) and will close out the regular season against Marblehead at home on Thursday, Oct. 26.
“Those are two good programs,” Vermont said. “The goal is to gel together quickly and get into the tournament. We just need to stay healthy and get after it. We have a good group trying out and they’re fighting for different spots. It’s too early to say too much about that, but everyone is competing for several spots.”