It has been over a decade since the Long Beach girls’ soccer team played a postseason game, but coach Tara Wesselhoft feels she has a squad in 2013 that can snap the program’s playoff drought.
The Lady Marines return several talented players from last year’s team that went 5-6-1 and was in playoff contention in Conference AA-2 all the way to the end of the season. Long Beach got off on the right foot with a 3-1 non-league win Sept. 11 at Oceanside, which competes in the higher Conference AA-1 division.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” said Wesselhoft, who is in her second year as Long Beach’s varsity coach and has been coaching with the program for 11 years. “This is one of the strongest senior classes I’ve seen in Long Beach.”
The Lady Marines’ experienced group of seniors is led by Clemson-bound center-midfielder Sharon Horgan, who missed her entire junior campaign with an ACL tear. “She is a great all-around player,” Wesselhoft said of Horgan, who scored two goals in the victory at Oceanside. “She is tough. She is pretty much a wall.”
Joining Horgan in the center-midfield is Jessica Shrek, who competed for the U.S. at the Maccabi Games in Israel this past summer. “Every year she has gotten better and better,” Wesselhoft said of Shrek, who has received interest from colleges to continue her soccer career. “She makes plays happen.”
A senior who will anchor the Marine defense is sweeper Melissa Rubin, who has started since she was a freshman. “She holds our team together,” Wesselhoft said of Rubin. “She has been one of my leaders.”
Rubin will try and prevent shot attempts against senior goalkeeper Shawna Sprewell, who is starting for the first time on varsity after serving as backup the past two seasons. Sprewell recorded nine saves in the opening win.
Two young players who play a big role in Long Beach’s offensive attack are freshman midfielders Kelly DiResto and Chrystal Posada, who both started on varsity as eighth graders in 2012. Senior Allyson Peysner also plays a key role.
“They are like veterans already,” said Wesselhoft of her two freshman starters.