Before the season, the Windham High girls’ soccer players set some lofty goals.
“As a team we knew we wanted to go far in the playoffs,” said Cassie Symonds, a junior midfielder.
“Last year we made it to the semifinals. This year our goal is getting to the playoffs and obviously advancing further than we did last year.”
The Eagles have put themselves in position to reach all of their goals. They will enter the Western Class A tournament as the top seed and only unbeaten Class A team in the state.
Still, learning from last year’s experience in the playoffs, the Windham players know that they can’t look too far into the future.
“We try not to look too far in advance,” said Emily Gilman, a senior defender. “We have an ultimate goal but we have to play each game before we think about our overall success.”
Both of the Eagles’ tournament games last season ended in penalty kicks.
“That was so stressful,” Symonds said, recalling how Cape Elizabeth knocked off the Eagles in the semifinals with a 2-1 victory.
Windham wants to avoid a repeat.
“I think we are mentally stronger than we were last year,” Gilman said.
Symonds said the Eagles are peaking at just the right time.
“We’re on the right side of the season right now,” she said. “Last year we peaked too early. Now we’re still working well together, and our team has good chemistry and things are looking good right now.”
Last week Windham played Scarborough to a 2-2 tie on the Red Storm’s artificial turf field to emerge from the regular season with a 13-0-1 record.
“It tells us we can hold our own with them and all the other big teams in Class A,” Gilman said. “Coming out of that game we still know we have stuff we need to work on, finish out and finalize for the playoffs.”
Last season the Eagles relied heavily on their defense to be the deciding factor in games. This year the offense has improved.
“I think it’s been definitely more balanced this year,” said Jenna Soucy, a junior forward. “We’ve been scoring a lot more goals this year than last year, and our defense is still strong and in the midfield we are pretty solid.”
In 14 regular-season games, Windham outscored opponents 72-4, posting 12 shutouts in 14 games. All but two of the players on the roster have scored goals.
AFTER WINNING three consecutive Class B state championships, Falmouth will be making its first appearance in the Western Class A tournament.
The Yachtsmen, seeded third, come into the tournament as an unknown factor. Aside from Kennebunk, which has to win a prelim Friday to advance, they didn’t play any tournament teams during the regular season.
First-year coach Andrew Pelletier, who guided Poland to an appearance in the Western Class B semifinals last season, has done his homework.
“Throughout the season we’ve made an effort to go out and see our potential opponents in the Class A tournament,” he said. “We’ve seen just about everybody we could play.”
Pelletier said his team has a good idea what it’s up again.
“The girls have a good understanding of who are the stronger teams so we’ll be ready for that,” he said. “There’s nothing that will come as a surprise to them. We’ll come ready to play and that’s all we can do.”
Second-seeded Falmouth (11-2-1) will play the winner of a preliminary-round game between No. 10 Portland and No. 7 Biddeford in the quarterfinals.
Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: