By KEN MORSE
When a team graduates 11 seniors, it’s time to head back to the drawing board. For Leszek Wrona it comes with the territory as he enters his 20th season as the Plainville girls head coach after serving five years at the helm of the boys soccer program.
Wrona brings a wealth of knowledge to the game of soccer as a former professional player-coach in Poland, Germany and the United States for 26 years. Along the way, he’s won league and national championships, and he even tied for the league scoring title one season. So he’s learned to take things in stride.
“We did lose a lot of experience with such a large senior class,” he said. “But we do have a solid core of juniors who have been playing since they were freshman. We are not going into the season unprepared.”
The team will have some big holes to fill. The team lost its leading goal scorer, Krystyna Miller, who moved to Washington D.C. The Devils also graduated two senior goal keepers, but that shouldn’t be a problem for Plainville’s coaching staff.
“We do have our assistant coach Kamil Kaminski back for his second year and is a former professional goalie who played overseas in Poland and played on the U.S. National team,” said Wrona who has been training soccer players for the past 20 years at the Wrona Indoor Soccer Academy in Bristol.
“We will be training one of our freshman, Amber St. Onge, to take over the goal keeping duties,” said the coach. “Defense will be relied on to keep us in games.”
Wrona will also be looking for key contributions from freshman newcomers Tea Autunno, Nayelle Heredia and Nora Couture.
Defense played a big part in the Blue Devils success last season going 5-6-5 reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2014. Plainville shut out four opponents and surrendered one goal or less in ten games allowing 27 goals in 16 games. Defense will continue to be key.
Plainville scored 28 goals last season, but the Devils did go through seven contests without putting one into the back of the net. That raises the focus on defense even more so.
“This season will be unlike any other season,” said Wrona who has guided the Lady Blue Devils to the state tournament 12 times in 20 seasons. “It will be a challenge, but if we work hard, back each other up, and stay positive, we can be competitive.”
That competitiveness will come from a seasoned group of juniors who come into the season with two years of varsity experience. Cortney Ouellette and Delaney Beausoleil will lead the team at midfield.
On defense the Blue Devils will rely on the speed and athleticism of Lyndsey DiTolla and Jordan Thompkins with forward Skyler Ibitz bringing the ball up through traffic.
Plainville will also have two more juniors new to the team this year Elena Gorneault and Alexia Sirois to add to an already experienced junior class.
“I’m a fighter and have won many championships in my career as a player and a coach,” said Wrona. “I know how to do this. I’m not saying it will be easy, but I have done this before.”
Wrona said that hard work is the key to building the skill needed. “Once you gain the skill, success will follow,” he said. “A little luck along the way doesn’t hurt either.”
Plainville will get the season underway at home on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 3:45 p.m. The first test will come against Conard, a team that went 8-7-1 last season advancing to the Class LL state tournament.