Hawken returns five starters from last season and eight others with varsity experience as the Hawks look to remain competitive in the Chagrin Valley Conference Chagrin Division and beyond.
That’s a tall order considering the Chagrin Division includes a defending state champion and three regional finalists, but the Hawks have a long history of soccer success and fourth-year coach Heidi Wilbrandt is confident her squad is ready to add its own chapter.
“We have a team that’s ready to build their chemistry and support each other, which has been key in our past successes,” Wilbrandt said. “Continuing to persevere through tough on-and-off the field challenges is a focus for us this fall.”
The Hawks finished 5-6-3 overall and 1-2-1 in conference play last season.
That record is a bit deceiving considering the conference losses were to defending Division II state champion Chagrin Falls and regional finalist West Geauga. The Hawks also earned a tie with Kirtland, a Division III regional finalist.
Hawken graduated several key seniors but there are players on the roster eager for their opportunity to fill those roles.
“Graduation always leaves us with holes, and we’re looking to many of our juniors to step into playmaker roles and be adaptable based on different needs this season,” Wilbrandt said. “Remaining focused on the things we can control will help us to define our own success this season.”
Among Hawken’s top returning players are senior forward Carmen Cicerini, senior midfielder Kayte Rourke, and senior defender Riley Branford.
Cicerini scored 12 goals with two assists on the way to earning first-team All-CVC honors. Rourke added two goals with two assists, and Branford was an honorable mention All-CVC selection.
“Carmen is a dynamic player, always looking for ways to create opportunities for us to go to goal,” Wilbrandt said. “Kayte’s competitive drive and her ability to be a playmaker on both ends make her a strong and reliable force in our midfield. As a defender, Riley’s field vision and strong play help to start our attack and reorganize us when we have to win back the ball.”
Hawken plans to overcome its weaknesses this season by focusing on the fundamentals and individual strengths of each line.
“Being able to rely on the tactical strengths of our players and their trust in each other will be the foundational focus for us this fall,” Wilbrandt said.