Thursday, October 6, 2022

Cuyahoga Heights rallies around underclassmen

With just one senior on the roster, Cuyahoga Heights’ girls’ soccer team will rely on its underclassmen to step up to the challenge of varsity competition this fall.

The Redskins, who finished 15-3-2 overall last season and reached a Division III district championship game, return just four starters and five letter winners. The young roster will be forced to quickly jell into a cohesive unit to compete in the rugged Chagrin Valley Conference Metro Division.

“The 2019 season will be a year of rebuilding after graduating seven starting seniors that have been instrumental in the development of the program at CHS,” eighth-year head coach Christy Zawadzki said. “After reaching the district final last year with a team full of experienced seniors, this season we will be very young and will make the mistakes common with youth, but we will definitely fight until the last whistle blows. As in any rebuilding year, we are working to build team chemistry and gain experience on the field. We will definitely work on improving all aspects of the game, both offensively and defensively.”

Abby Szendrey is the team’s only senior and is entering her fourth year as a starter. As one of two team captains, Szendrey will be counted on to provide leadership and consistent play from other the center midfield or center back spots.

“She is the only senior this season and is truly the heart and soul of this team,” Zawadzki said. “Also chosen as team captain, her experience and leadership will be the key to the team’s success. There is no player on the roster as dedicated and determined on this team as much as Abby. She has always and will continue to be a coach’s dream.”

Juniors Julia Harris and Kenni Voytek also return after successful sophomore seasons.

Harris scored 14 goals with 14 assists in her second year on the varsity squad.

“Named as captain this season, she will also have to show true leadership in guiding this young team,” Zawadzki said. “It shouldn’t be too much of a challenge for Julia, who I consider the hardest worker on this team.”

Voytek returns at center back, where she earned first-team All-CVC honors last season.

“(Votek is) the key to our defense,” Zawadzki said. “She enters her second season as center back after being converted last year from her forward spot. She excelled immediately, earning first-team CVC conference honors.

Sophomore Reagan Sturgill is among the most dangerous of the returning Redskins. She scored 31 goals with 14 assists on the way to being named first-team All-CVC and All-District as a freshman.

“This season she will try and build on her 31 goals and 14 assists, which will be a tall task with a very youthful team,” Zawadzki said. “She was chosen as CVC first-team and All-District first-team last season, but will really need to raise her game to a new level this season. She will need to replace the leadership that Brooke Wilson had on the field with her own.”

Zawadzki expects several other underclassmen to take advantage of their opportunities this fall.

“We are looking forward to seeing some exciting things from some returning players last season,” she said. “The graduation of seven starting seniors has opened many spots for these girls to make a name for themselves. Look for big things to come from sophomore mid/defender Lily Frank, midfielder Delayne DiSanza and junior goalkeeper Megan Ellis.”

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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