Sabers know new coach

The Souhegan High School girls soccer team may have gone into this season as the defending Division II champions, but there were a lot of holes for the Sabers to fill.
Gone were seven seniors, six of whom started, including forward Peyton Kent and goalie Mikayla Sullivan, and with them went head coach Dwayne Andreasen and assistant coach Lisa Kent.

But in their place stepped a face familiar to the returning players, and to anyone who had been around the program for the better part of the last decade.

Amy Sparks, who had served as the junior varsity coach for the last six years, moved up to replace Andreasen and take over a program that has been to the D-II semifinals in each of the last four years, and the championship game in the last three, winning in 2011 and 2013. Thanks to her familiarity with the program, the transition has been a smooth one.

“Most of them (the players) either know me or played for me,” Sparks said. “They know my style and they know my approach, and I know a lot about them, so that’s made it a little easier.”

Although she was the JV coach, Sparks said Andreasen included her in everything that was going on with the varsity, right down to the team’s style of play.

“I learned so much from Dwayne and Lisa that I was able to take so much of what they did and carry that forward,” she added. “Without that, it would have been so much harder. They were great at teaching me and including me, so stepping in, that made it so much smoother.

“I think that when I came here and learned how Souhegan did things, I adopted almost all of the principals that they had going in varsity. Their style of play, they’re mentality, they’re intensity, they’re treating of the team like a family. We try to not just coach the girls on the field, we pay attention to what goes on with them. I don’t view my job as just coaching them as a soccer player. I view it as coaching them as a person, helping them become well-rounded.”

The Sabers are off to a good start this season, winning their first two before falling to Windham 4-3 in overtime last Friday. Souhegan scored four goals in those first two games, with all four coming from junior Hannah Chick, and the Sabers have gotten great leadership from captains Alana Barretto (junior) and Emma Fleuette (senior), along with the rest of the team’s seniors.

“The seniors have stepped up from the beginning and provided great leadership,” Sparks said. “They’re hungry. For the current seniors, they have been to the final every year they’ve been here and they want that tradition to continue. They feel there’s no reason they can’t do that.”