Originally from Wales, Rob Williams moved to the United States five years ago. This fall Williams latched on coaching Scituate girls’ soccer, his first coaching job in the States, and seems a natural on the sidelines.
With one game left in the regular season, the Sailors have locked up first place in the Patriot League and boast an overall record of 14-1-2. They are looking forward to competing for the Division 2 South sectional championship.
“I could see right from the start this was going to be a successful year. These girls, they want to win, they want to win every single game,” said Williams. “But going into the tournament, it’s a different brand of soccer.”
Last year, the Sailors
finished the regular season with 15-1-3 and made it to the Division 2 South quarterfinal before bowing out with a 1-0 loss to Canton. Williams has the benefit of an experienced roster of players who have the talent and the dedication to go even further into the postseason.
The lone senior on the team is goalkeeper Megan James. Her 0.46 goals-against average leads the Patriot League and as a captain, she leads her teammates both on and off the field. The captains are junior central defender Marlena Reidy, junior central midfielder Erika Badger, and junior forward Corey Murray.
“It kind of just worked out that the four captains were the spine of my team,” said Williams. “The thinking towards that was all four of them are leaders and they could all lead their own department.”
Murray leads the team in scoring with 16 goals and six assists. Two freshmen, Maddie Muha and Hannah Sheskey, share the other starting forward position. The pair, two of five freshmen on the roster, has combined for eight goals and three assists this season.
“They [the freshmen] are actually playing as much time as anybody on the field,” said Williams. “They have been great this year. It was kind of intimidating for them going into high school, but a lot of them are starting which obviously bodes well for the future of the program.”
Badger has also made a huge impact on the offense this year from the midfield. She has assisted on 11 goals and has scored nine of her own, making her the Sailors’ leading scorer with 20 points.
As a team, Scituate has put up 59 goals in 17 games; the defense has only allowed 10. Reidy, along with juniors Oriana McDonough and Leah Doherty, anchors the Sailors’ defense.
“They are a very compact group; they are constantly talking to each other. There is a good chemistry there,” said Williams. “We have to be solid at the back for Corey and Erika to go on and score all these goals.”
Williams brought a more European style of play with him from Wales. His philosophy is centered on possession: get the ball on the ground and keep it moving.
“The first thing I said to the girls when we came in [to preseason] was, ‘It’s time to play soccer the way it is meant to be played’,” said Williams.
“During practices, all we work on is possession of the ball; keep the ball on the floor and keep passing for feet,” he said. “We like to control the tempo of a game. When we need to speed a game up, we speed it up. When we need to slow it down, we slow it down.”
Williams is proud of what his team has accomplished, but he realizes that a nearly perfect record in the regular season makes them a target in the postseason.
“I guess people are going to look at our record and see that we only lost one game and they’re going to come out to get us,” said Williams.
“The girls deserve everything the have been working hard for on and off the field, but the season is really just beginning now, the tournament is what everybody is trying to win.”
Games to watch
Austin Prep at Cardinal Spellman, Monday, 3:30 – The Cardinals bested Austin Prep, 2-0, earlier this year but the two teams are neck and neck in the Catholic Central Large, each with one conference loss, so this is clearly a big game for both teams.
Newburyport at Masconomet, Monday, 3:45 – In this matchup between two undefeated league rivals, Masconomet has nothing to lose. The Chieftains tied Newburyport, 1-1, earlier this season and a win would mean first place in the Cape Ann League.
Lincoln-Sudbury at Acton-Boxboro, Tuesday, 4 – The Warriors beat Acton-Boxboro, 2-0, in September but Lincoln-Sudbury has lost two of their last three so this is anybody’s game.
Peabody at Beverly, Friday, 4 – This is a must-win game for the Panthers if they are going to win the Northeastern Conference. If the Peabody defense can stop Caitlin Harty, the league title will be theirs.
Notre Dame (Hingham) at Central Catholic – Will the Cougars be the team to finally take down undefeated Central Catholic? Notre Dame (Hingham) has just one loss and could pose a challenge for the seemingly unstoppable Raiders.