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High School Girls Soccer Preview: Former WNY standout takes over at Hamburg

Ellen Piccillo is a senior returning to the Hamburg girls soccer team as a forward. (File photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

The retirement of longtime Hamburg girls soccer coach Bruce Mitchell has opened the door to an opportunity for a young colleague he’s sang the praises of since she first joined the Bulldogs’ staff in 2009.

Jen Bagley, formerly Dannecker, a teacher at Hamburg High School, takes over the varsity team after three years as an assistant with the program. Bagley is a former All-Western New York player who led the area in scoring while with Holy Angels Academy before moving on to play at the collegiate level at the University at Buffalo.

Mitchell was excited by what the elite talent brought to the program. Those following Hamburg will see what he saw in her up close this year. Bagley would like to continue Mitchell’s work while maintaining the program’s momentum. Last year, the Bulldogs enjoyed one of the program’s best seasons in years, finishing 11-5-1 and challenging for the ECIC Division II top spot all season.

“I hope to strengthen the program that Bruce helped to build,” said Bagley, who also coached women’s soccer at D’Youville College for four seasons after graduating from UB in 2005. “I would like to help the girls grow mentally and emotionally into well-rounded athletes with an appreciation and love for the game of soccer. I feel that I bring leadership and experience having coached and played in college.”

This year, Bagley will have a much different team though than the one that took the field last year. Five-year starting midfielders Kaelyn Gamel and Marissa Lombard, along with top defender Alexis Smith and goalie Nicole Thiel, have graduated. Hamburg will also be missing All-ECIC II First Team selection Jessie Smith, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

Still, Bagley is excited for the opportunity to work with a younger team. She’ll bank on the leadership of returning senior starters Jenna Smolinski, a midfielder who’s been with the varsity since the eighth grade, and Autumn Padovani, one of the team’s top defenders.

She hopes to get scoring from an array of players, including returning sophomore Amy Villarini and newcomers Abbey Piccillo, Gabby Hafner and freshman Kara Daly. Allie Izzo takes over in goal.
Alicia Roistacher is one of trio of three-year starting midfielders returning this year for a strong Eden team. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Eden with high hopes led by experienced midfield

Eden has rejuvenated its girls soccer program by putting together consecutive 10-win seasons, but 2012 may be an even bigger year.

The Raiders bring back 11 players from last season, including four three-year starting seniors in Catherine Mammoser, Emily Carias, Hanna Zittel and Alicia Roistacher.

Mammoser, a striker who earned All-ECIC IV Second Team honors, was last year’s top scorer for Eden, while Carias, Zittel and Roistacher return as midfielders. Carias and Zittel both were selected to the all-league first team and Roistacher was a second team honoree.

“This year we have a very experienced and talented team,” said Eden head coach Jill Keller, who’s in her 18th season as a varsity coach. “Our strength is in the midfield.”

Defensively, fullbacks Jenny Morrow and captain Kathryn Villar return from last season to provide speed on the defensive third, while senior Courtney Cross will again start in goal for Eden. Keller also feels she has a competent center back in junior Danielle O’Connell, who is quickly learning the Raiders’ formation.

Joining the veteran midfield will be eighth grader Morgan Keppler, while Norwegian exchange student Marit Mellemseter has the ability to compliment the quickness and crossing ability of Mammoser with her ball handling and knack for the net at striker, Keller said.

In the off\season, a group of Eden players trained through the Buffalo Soccer Academy Clinic and a few played for Black Watch Premier, which helped to keep them sharp.

All of the locals, also including Frontier, Lake Shore, North Collins and Immaculata, began the season Wednesday (Sept. 5). More to come in next week’s edition of The Sun.

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