NORTH EASTHAM – The Nauset girls soccer program doesn’t want to take its foot off the accelerator. Not during practice, and certainly not during games.
As long as the Warriors are on the soccer pitch, they want to give it their all.
The was one of the big takeaways for Nauset after the team suffered a 4-3 double-overtime loss to North Middlesex in the preliminary round of last year’s Division 2 state tournament.
“We’re going to just try to be more active, more competitive, and play at a faster pace,” Nauset’s third-year coach Tom Pollert said. “We want to try to stay at a level that’s consistent throughout each practice and each game.”
Pollert admitted that implementing the new full-tilt system has been a little frustrating for the Warriors, who lost nine seniors to graduation but return 14 players who gained some varsity experience last fall.
“Putting it in place has been a little frustrating at times for us, but the girls have been working hard trying to figure it out and trying to find their competitive edge, which we’re asking them to improve,” Pollert said.
It helps that the coach feels like the Warriors are making strides all over the field.
“I feel like we’re gaining momentum at every position,” he said. “We have good competition at every position between the 14 girls coming back and we’ve got four more — we’re carrying 18 players to start.”
Pollert said a pair of juniors and returning Cape and Islands League All-Stars, Caroline Kennard and Olivia Avellar, will drive the team as leaders alongside senior captains Ella McGrath, Emma Easley and Sophia Easley, a trio of midfielders who have played varsity all four years.
In goal, sophomore Pepper Escher will take over between the pipes after serving as backup last fall behind Brady Deschamps, who has since joined the Mass. Maritime women’s team.
“She’s got some varsity experience but she has a ton of club experience as well,” Pollert said of Escher.
One new wrinkle surrounding Nauset this fall is an enhanced effort to play an extremely challenging schedule.
After being selected as the No. 34 seed in last year’s Division 2 state tournament following a 15-3 regular season, Pollert said he wanted to schedule tougher opponents in hopes that will boost the team’s schedule strength and allow the Warriors to earn a higher seed, similar to what they would experience prior to the new statewide tournaments when schools would compete in sectional formats.
“Obviously last year at 15-3 we thought we had a pretty good season, but with the new seedings being based on strength of schedule we had to go on the road [in the first round],” Pollert said. “Two years ago, at 15-3 we probably would’ve been the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the South sectional, and I think last year we were No. 34.
“So we went out and scheduled Pembroke and Plymouth South from the Patriot League. Then we scheduled Newton South – they went undefeated and the only game they lost was in the Final Four of the Division 1 tournament last year.”
The challenges will come early. Nauset hosts Bridgewater-Raynham on Sept. 6 in its opener and then welcomes Pembroke to town two days later.
“Right off the bat, we’ll see who we are,” Pollert said.
If there’s one thing driving the team this fall, Pollert said, it’s motivation to go deeper in the state tournament this year than they did last.
“The girls had a bad taste in their mouths about the way things finished last year losing in sudden-death overtime,” Pollert said. “They’ve put in the time in club and have put in the time this summer and
they’re working hard to try to have another Cape and Islands League title and hopefully make a little deeper run in the tournament this year.”
Email Brad Joyal at Brad@capecodchronicle.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal