NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Better late than never, the McCann Tech girls soccer team opens its 2013 season on Tuesday afternoon at Renaissance School.
The Hornets are hoping the schedule saved the best for last.
McCann has won its league championship two years in a row, and coach Mike Dowling believes his side has the talent to compete for a trifecta in the Tri-County.
"We're OK," Dowling said as his team got ready for a scrimmage at Drury back in August. "We've got some athletes.
"I've got 11 returning seniors. I lost my scorer. I lost my center mid. But I've got 27 players, which is good, and they have a good attitude. I've got four or five freshmen coming in, that's a good number to start building up again."
And the Hornets have experience between the pipes in third-year starter Alexandria Wood.
Last year, McCann did not allow a goal until the fifth game of the season (a 2-1 win over Renaissance), and Wood posted a 1.0 goals against average.
The Hornets might need some extra defense while it finds new sources of offense after Mary Nguyen's graduation. Nguyen scored 43 goals last year and more than a 100 in her career at McCann.
"It's hard to replace Mary," Dowling said. "Right now I have a freshman (Allie Gibeau) up there playing center forward. She's a little scared today, but I think she'll be OK once she settles down into the tech school league.
"She's a goal scorer for her travel team. She's the real deal, but she is a freshman on a varsity team."
Dowling said he may start as many as four or five freshmen and sophomores, and the team has the benefit of several players who arrived at McCann with travel team experience, including Gibeau, classmates Katie Gigliotti and Jordan Budas and sophomore Cheyenne Alcombright, a transfer from Mount Greylock.
The leading returning scorer from last year's squad is sophomore Monique Martel, who had five goals and seven assists as a freshman. Senior Eileen Zajack had four goals and five assists last fall.
"We've got a lot of athletes, so I've had a pleasant atmosphere to work with," Dowling said. "They're very coachable, very hard-working. I never had to worry about running them the first day of practice."