HARVARD --The Bromfield girls' soccer team is hard at work preparing for its opening-day match at Gardner on Sept. 4.
Gary Wenger has stepped down from his post as head coach of the Lady Trojans and has chosen to take an advisory role, due to the time-demanding nature of his most recent career move.
Wenger turns over the reins to long-time co-head coach BJ Pessia, a resident of Harvard known for her easygoing personality and passion for Lady Trojans soccer. Pessia will be assisted by junior varsity coach Bryce Mattie.
Bromfield is coming off a Div. 3 CMass District Finals loss to its nemesis, Sutton. Pessia thinks her team has the depth to make a run again.
"Emotional and physical wellness," Pessia said are the keys to returning to the postseason. "Academic things get handled next, then we will think about winning.
"I said to them, they'll win. This is a team that has Lizzie Rooney and Rylee Osgood, they're your superstars, that's it. Everybody else is going to have to build around it."
The Lady Trojans will be led into the season by its three senior captains Osgood, Rooney and Nikki Margaretos.
Rooney took the majority of the free kicks for the Lady Trojans last year and is expected to do the same this season. Osgood has the ability to play at forward or at the midfield. She was the leading scorer last year with 23 goals and six assists.
"Rylee is a superstar," Pessia said. "The nice thing about her is she is a superstar, but she doesn't act like it. She (Rylee) is the best teammate you can have, and the best player.
"Lizzie is very strong. She can play any position in the center of the field. High school soccer, in this league especially, is more about physicality and speed and less about skill. It gets better when you get players like Lizzie and Rylee who have played for a number of years."
Sophomore forward Soph Turchetta is a notable underclassman returning for the Lady Trojans. Turchetta tallied six goals and five assists as a freshman.
According to Pessia, Margaretos is the facilitator of the trio of captains.
"Nikki is the organizer, the leader and mother of the gang," the coach said. "The younger kids who have come into camp, she encourages them and tells them what to do in a positive way. She just has a real talent for that. I honestly can't say one bad thing about anyone on this team."
Pessia plans to divide the goalkeeping duties between senior Jenn Symula and sophomore Meghanne Fitzsimmons.
"They both went to camp this summer and have been working on their skills," Pessia said of her two veteran goalies. "They both love playing goalie, and they are good teammates.
"Jenn took on goalie at a late age and plays with a ton of heart. I first saw Meghanne playing goalie at a U10 game, and she left her feet and landed correctly. She just has the ability to say 'I got to get that ball' and leave her feet."
Bromfield is not without its losses, and according to Margaretos, the Lady Trojans will have to work hard to get back to the level at which they played a year ago.
"We lost about 11 players or so," said Margaretos. "I think if we work really hard, we can get back to the level we were at. Communication is key. I feel like if we talk to each other, we will have more success."
Bromfield finished last year with an overall record of 12-3-5.