Millis Girls Soccer Aims to Defend State Title

By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Millis Soccer Captains Riley Donovan, Jess Krauss and Caira Moynihan are shown here with their team’s state championship plaque. This year, having graduated nine seniors last year, the team is starting from scratch defending the title.
Issue Date: 
August, 2018
Article Body: 

Prior to last fall, the Millis girls’ soccer team had qualified for the Division 4 South Tournament three out of the four years. Unfortunately during that time frame, the Mohawks were knocked out twice in the Quarter Finals and once in the Semi Finals. Last season was a different story, and Millis was able to exorcise all their demons.
After finishing the regular season 12-2-2 the squad was awarded a two seed in the tournament where they quickly showed that this year was going to be different. Millis dispatched of Rising Tide (8-0), Cohasset (3-1) and Coyle and Cassidy (4-0) to grab the Division 4 South Title. Next up was uncharted waters for these girls – the Division 4 State Tournament. Millis edged Amesbury 2-1 and then Millbury 1-0 to grab their first State Title in eight years.
Millis Coach Steve Bailen knew last fall was going to be different.
“The year before we won the State Title, the girls felt strongly that they could have gone further (Millis went 10-4-4 in the regular season and was eliminated in the Quarter Finals), so leading up to tryouts last season they were focused,” the Coach said. “It was a team that had athleticism, speed, skill, persistence and aggression. We started off roughly with a tie, a loss and another tie before finally pulling things together.”
Coming into this season, the Mohawks will be without the help of nine seniors from last year’s squad. Bailen considers it to be a rebuilding of the team where he’ll have to do some shuffling of players to find that right consistency.
“I’m going to have to figure out where everyone will play and what they bring to the team. That’s all part of being a coach,” Bailen said. “I’ve already had a group meeting with the team setting the tone for the upcoming season.”
The Millis Coach let his team know that this was the time to get start getting into soccer shape and putting their heads in the right frame of mind. While winning a State Championship was great, it’s now in the past, and everything going forward should be what they can contribute to the team this upcoming season.
Looking to lead the team back onto the field and in the right direction will be the three senior captains in Riley Donovan, Jess Krauss and Caira Moynihan. They all know what is needed to not only get back into the Sectionals but return to the State Tournament.
“Coming into the season, we need to prepare as much as we did last year when we fell short,” Krauss said. “This is a new team, and we need to bond to become successful. As captains, we are pushing the conditioning, so that we are fit to play in the TVL season.”
With 12 girls returning to the field, things shouldn’t be all that bad as to knowing where to play and what they bring to the team. Bailen is hoping that the new girls can come in right away and gel while creating a chemistry with the rest of the team. Moynihan and the rest of the captains already have the incoming girls working out to get ready for the season, but have been going to camps and bonding.
Winning the States was a team effort, and will once again, everyone will have to be on the same page if they want to defend their title.
“We all showed determination throughout the regular season, but once we got into the tournament we needed to raise our game,” Donovan said. “In order to be successful, we had to work hard and everyone gave 150% on the field; we worked our butts off to get those Championships.”
Capturing the State Title was another success story for Millis High School, the last time the girls’ soccer team was in 2009. In order for the Mohawks to do that last fall the team found themselves on the right pace entering the tournament.
“Everyone was clicking, and once there they were calm, cool and collective and knew what had to be done,” Bailen said. “If it’s not broken don’t fix it. They shook off the nerves and went on the run.”
While being a part of a team to capture the State Championship was a thrilling experience, the squad wanted to win it for one of their coaches.
“It was really emotional winning the States, but we wanted to win it for Coach Olivia Zitoli, a member of the 2009 team,” Donovan said. “We wanted to win it for her as well as bringing it back to the school.”
When the season opens up, Millis is hoping to avoid the start they had last year and go out and play Mohawk soccer.
“The Tri Valley League is very tough and definitely makes us better,” Moynihan said. “As long as we play them tough, it sets us up to be successful.”