The Chelsea High cross country and girls soccer teams will both open their 2009 season today. The cross country team set to open at home on Admiral’s Hill with a non-league dual meet against Everett High, while the girls soccer team will open on the road against Greater Lowell.
The cross country Red Devils are hoping that increased participation for both the boys and girls teams will lead to a more competitive season for both teams. In 2008, the boys team included about seven athletes (the bare minimum for competition is five), resulting in an 0-8 record in meets, while the girls were able to go 3-5 with a team that numbered between 7-9 at different points in the season.
This year, however, head coach Don Fay was pleased to report that 27 athletes are set to open the 2009 season (15 on the boys side, 12 for the girls). The heightened interest in track may have something to do with last year’s spring track and field season, which saw both the boys and girls teams go undefeated in meets against Commonwealth Athletic Conference opponents.
Fay said that this year’s boys runners will likely be led by a group of four athletes that have established themselves as the team’s top competitors in the early going. At the top of the list is senior captain Ugo Cvjetan, the team’s top runner from a year ago who won the two-mile race and finished second in the one-mile at the 2008 CAC meet. Expected to keep pace with him in the top group are junior Santos Hernandez, senior Cesar Hernandez and sophomore Luis Hernandez (no relation among either of the three).
Cvjetan, Luis Hernandez and junior Joam Marmolejos are the only returning athletes from last year’s boys team.
On the girls side, senior Suzanne Mixalixen has been named the team captain, and she is joined by two fellow returners in sophomore Le Che and junior Anelsa Bequo. Fay said that Mixalixen, Che, senior Karen Zulaga and juniors Jessenia Contreras and Tracy Pereira have emerged as the team’s top runners leading up to the season opener.
Among the new comers expected to make an impact with the cross country program are Jaime Aguilar, Phillip Clark, Nobert Simon, Edgar O’Coana, Jonathan Cebalos, Kevin Chinchilla, Kevin Luu and Brandon Rath (the latter seven were all part of the track and field team last spring, as were Cesar and Santos Hernandez).
The team will get its first taste of league competition on September 16 when they run in a tri-meet against Northeast Regional and Greater Lowell at Admiral’s Hill.
Meanwhile the girls soccer team is preparing to open its season with back-to-back road games. Today’s game against Greater Lowell will be followed by a game at Pope John XXIII tomorrow.
Head coach Jen Gulko reported that her team consists of eight returners from the 2008 squad, as well as several promising newcomers. The team performed well last year in its first season as a full-fledged Chelsea High varsity program (the team had played as a club team in the two years prior), going 3-9 with six losses coming by just one goal.
At the end of last season, the players elected forward Elsi Cruz and midfielder Katherin Romero to be the captains of the upcoming season. The two seniors were both among the founding players when the girls soccer Devils began as a club team four years ago and have been among the team’s top players ever since.
Junior Victoria Perez will be the team’s starting goalie after starting in the net in about half of the team’s games in 2008. Perez, an outstanding athlete who had breakout years for the school’s basketball and spring track teams as a sophomore, appears to have worked hard and improved her goalie skills over the summer, according to Gulko. Freshman Cindy Cruz is slated to be the team’s back-up netminder.
Returning sophomore Elsa Cruz will combine with Elsi Cruz to give the Red Devils a formidable duo of forwards, while Yury Morales and Michelle Le are back to anchor the defense. Other returners included senior Lesly Palencia and sophomore Angelica Landaverde, who will miss the early part of the season after suffering a knee injury in a recent practice.
Among the newcomers hoping to make an impact with the team are sophomore Loren Ramos, senior transfer student Rika Dazelais and fellow senior Naomi Mejia, who was among the top athletes for the Chelsea High spring track and field program in 2008.
Gulko said that she is pleased with the work that her players have put in during the offseason and is confident that the team can improve on last year’s record.
“I think they are in much better physical condition this year,” she said. “They have been working out harder, and their skills, in general, are better this year, which will help us out. One advantage we have is that now we have played at these other schools and know about their teams and their fields.”