The Shoreham-Wading River girls soccer team was never overpowered last year, even in a rare down year that ended without a trip to the postseason. Only once did the Wildcats lose a game by more than one goal.
The problem, generally, tended to be scoring.
“I think they thought because they lost all those seniors, Kari [Quinn] and Shannon [McDonnell], I think they thought they weren’t going to be as good as they really were,” said Shoreham coach Adrian Gilmore.
A year older and wiser, and having lost only two regular contributors from last year’s team, the Wildcats are poised to take a step forward going into the fall season.
Judging by their performance in the Town of Brookhaven Summer League, the Wildcats believe they can create more offense this year.
One reason for optimism is the return of sophomore Meghan Kelly, who tallied 10 goals in the summer to tie for the league lead.
Another has been the emergence of freshman Alex Kuhnle, who has quickly made an impression on Gilmore.
Kuhnle easily stood out Tuesday against Sayville playing left halfback in a shortened game that was twice-delayed by weather. Sayville won 1-0 on a second-half penalty kick at Patchogue-Medford Youth Complex.
Gilmore said she had heard of Kuhnle and knew she was a talented player, but hadn’t seen her in action until the summer league. A skilled lefty, Kuhnle plays on a number of different soccer teams throughout the year.
“She’s very unselfish,” Gilmore said. “There have been times where I thought maybe she should have shot the ball and she passed it.”
Kelly and Kuhnle represent a young core for the Wildcats to build around for the next few seasons.
“I’m excited to see the combination of her and Meghan up front,” Gilmore said.
Kuhnle had the best scoring chance for Shoreham against Sayville when her shot off a rebound was stopped by a diving goalkeeper. It set up Shoreham’s lone corner kick.
The Wildcats (4-5) haven’t had as many players on the varsity summer team as in years past, which led to two of their losses being forfeits. As tends to be the case in summer league, each game is often a mishmash of different players.
Midfielder Courtney Clasen played in goal Tuesday in the absence of senior Kelly Wynkoop, who was away on a college function.
Clasen will be another key player in the midfield during the regular season, and one player who Gilmore hopes can provide a few more goals.
“She’s outstanding,” Gilmore said. “She’s started and played every game since she’s been in ninth grade. She shoots that ball and I think it will all come together very nicely.”
With most of last year’s team returning, Gilmore said she doesn’t plan on keeping a very large varsity roster in the fall, which will make for some intense competition in tryouts.
In the summer league, Shoreham’s junior varsity team has 29 players, Gilmore said. Most are going into either eighth or ninth grade, Gilmore said.
“It looks like we’re going to have a couple good years of some good athletes coming up,” Gilmore said.