By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The emergence of the Paul Mumby era has been arguably a very good thing for the Westborough High School girls’ varsity soccer program.
Mumby, in his ninth season guiding the Ranger girls, has produced seven Midland titles in his tenure at Westborough where before there were none, and with this season’s team finishing with six consecutive victories to wrap up the regular season with a 14-4 record, another title is in reach.
The 2015 squad is packed with experienced players including 14 seniors who bring skill, enthusiasm and a hunger to win.
“I have some talented kids,” said Mumby, who is assisted by Martha Collins and Bethi Ledoux. “I only had so much time to get them ready before the season started. They came in in shape and a lot of them have the technical skills. It’s really then just how to get them together to gel and play as a team and they have definitely done that.”
“Last year we had a lot of injuries and I think we could have gone farther than we did,” senior co-captain Rakasa Pattanaik added. “We all came into the season knowing that we had so many seniors and younger kids returning. We knew what we were capable and just tried really, really hard to get there.”
The team is playing with an extremely balanced roster. Proof positive is that six Ranger girls are in the top 15 Midland B scorers listing. Pattanaik, Carly Flahive, Skyler Barry, Emily Longo, Claire Hounslow and Meg Hippeli are all in the leading scorers’ category. All are counted on daily, but don’t ignore the defense that rarely gets the headlines but can be the backbone of the team.
“We have a very strong defense on our team and they’re great at helping push the ball forward and then our midfielders are extremely strong and know how to move the ball,” explained Flahive, a senior co-captain who will be playing at Holy Cross College in 2016. “We get the ball forward and no one’s really looking for themselves. We’re all looking to make the pass to that open player to shoot. We’re not a selfish team. We’re very good at working as a team.”
The Ranger girls are poised and more than ready for the playoffs, often referred to as the second season. That being said, they know that they cannot let up in intensity and that preparation is crucial.
“It’s important to stay focused mentally,” Pattanaik affirmed. “We have to realize that the regular season’s over but the new season is just beginning. It’s important to keep them calmed down and ask them to focus on what they can do to make the team better. If they’re happy, they’re going to play for you. If they’re not happy, they’re not. It’s been a fun season.
“Having 14 seniors and five younger kids, we have to make sure that every game and every practice is welcoming to everybody. Our team has amazing chemistry. Everyone’s friends with each other and that helps a lot. We are always encouraging each other. We’re not like one of those teams that brings down each other. We’re always there for each other and I think that helps a lot.”
“We can’t dwell on it being playoff season,” added Flahive, who missed most of last season with an ACL injury. “We have to go into it thinking that it’s just another game and play our game not letting the other teams make us timid. We have to keep playing our game.”
No matter the outcome of playoff competition, coaching these Ranger girls is a joy and a pleasure for Mumby, who clearly is in his element on the soccer field. Ten years at West Boylston High School before coming to Westborough has only reinforced his love of the game.
“The main thing I come here for is fun,” he said. “Without a doubt, this is not a job to me. Every day it’s fun and the girls work so hard.”
Seniors on the 2015 Westborough High girls varsity soccer team are Pattanaik, Flahive, Hippeli, Alice Reh, Olivia Harwood, Carter Bromm, Madeline French, Brittany Los, Samantha Mack, Allison Smith, Hailey Limoges, Taylor Powers and Emily Falanga.
Junior Longo is joined by sophomores Barry, Hounslow, Jenna Lewis-Keddy, Emily Burneson, Kyra Barrett, Miriam Levesque and Chelsea Taylor.