The theme this year is simple: "Do your job."
The rest, Jamestown Community College women's soccer coach Dana Shelters says, will follow.
"It may sound cliche, but we're taking it one game at a time, one half at a time," he explained. "If we can do our jobs and keep it simple, the results will come and we'll move forward in a successful manner."
The Jamestown Community College women’s soccer team opens its season at home on Saturday at 2 p.m. against Mohawk Valley CC. In front, from left, are Monica Buck, Megan Lundy, Danielle Shelters, Jennifer Peterson, Andrea Washington, Mary Lucas and Sydney Wheeler. In back are head coach Dana Shelters, Linnea Anderson, Meghan Wilcox, Emilyann Pleszewski, Ashley Skelly, Nicole Mahoney, Kelsey Fish, Olivia Sinatra, Mellody Sawyer, Haley Sigular and assistant coach Jen Territo. Absent was Samantha Colston.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
It's that "keep it simple" strategy that has Shelters convinced that this is the year the Jayhawks break out of what has been a three-year stretch of less than stellar results and bad luck.
After winning nine games and placing 10th in the standings in 2008, JCC had high hopes entering the 2009 season, but the team never gelled and finished with just two wins. Following that campaign, the Jayhawks captured four victories - against 11 losses and two ties - and then, last season, got off to a fast start, going 2-2-1 against some tough competition, before being decimated by injuries. JCC lost six players early in the season and was without both team captains, including goalie Natalie Marsh, and suffered an eight-game winless streak on the way to a second straight 4-11-2 record.
"I'm very optimistic," Shelters continued, "and I really feel that we should - barring a situation in which we suffer the amount of injuries we did last year - not only be in the postseason, but get somewhere in the postseason."
There's good reason for the optimism.
First and foremost among them: this team is fast, really fast.
"We've had speed at individual positions in the past, but never this sort of overall team speed," Shelters said. "It's through the roof, at all positions, and the college game is all about speed. We've got it at the forward, midfield and defensive positions."
Armed with that speed up and down the lineup, the JCC game will lend itself to a fast-paced, wide-open style of play.
"We're not going to be a vanilla offense," Shelters promised. "We'll be looking to play a fast-paced game by spreading out the field with the long ball over the top."
The primary beneficiaries of that style will be the squad's top speedsters - forwards Olivia Sinatra, Ashley Skelly of Fredonia and Nicole Mahoney.
Mahoney, a sophomore out of Jamestown, was the Jayhawks' leading scorer last season with seven goals and 15 points while Sinatra, a freshman, was a standout track and soccer player, also with the Lady Red Raiders.
The biggest name of the group, however, is Skelly, a sophomore transfer from JCC-Olean and a prolific scorer who netted 18 goals and 13 assists for 49 points as a freshman, which was good enough for seventh in all of NJCAA Region 3.
"Everyone in the conference, everyone in the league knows about Skelly," Shelters said. "Last year we left Nicole on an island a lot, but now we're balanced out. Teams can't take away or focus on just one player. We've got too much speed everywhere else."
While last season opposing teams were able to key on particular players, they won't have that luxury this time around, which could open things up for other players like, for instance, Linnea Anderson, a sophomore from Falconer who Shelters calls a "secret weapon" that was third in scoring on the Jayhawks with six points.
On the defensive end, meanwhile, there remain some questions heading into the season. Chief among them is how to replace Marsh, who following last season earned an NCAA Division 1 scholarship to play goalie at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
With a sophomore, Emilyann Pleszewski of Fredonia who filled in for long stretches last year when Marsh was injured, and a freshman, Haley Sigular of Jamestown, Shelters has options.
"We're sorting out (the goaltending situation)," Shelters said. "We platooned them this weekend (when the team went to Boston for scrimmages) and our plan is to play the hot hand. I will be looking for Emily to lead but both have their strengths."
After a pair of scrimmages in Boston last weekend (the Jayhawks split), regular-season action begins with a tough test right off the bat against visiting Mohawk Valley CC, a squad that defeated JCC 8-1 last season on the way to a 15-4 record and an appearance in the regional final, on Saturday at 2 p.m.
With a team focused and ready to showcase its speed, Shelters is looking forward to the battle.
"I like having a really tough game right off the bat," he said. "It'll be interesting."
Aug. 25 - Mohawk Valley CC, 2 p.m.
Sept. 6 - at Niagara County CC, 4 p.m.
Sept. 8 - at Broome CC, 1 p.m.
Sept. 9 - Westmoreland County CC, 1 p.m.
Sept. 12 - at Alfred State College, 4 p.m.
Sept. 15 - Clinton CC at Corning CC, 2 p.m.
Sept. 22 - Tompkins Cortland CC, noon
Sept. 23 - at Corning CC, noon
Sept. 27 - at JCC-Olean, 6 p.m.
Sept. 29 - Onondaga CC, 1 p.m.
Oct.. 2 - at Mercyhurst North East, 2 p.m.
Oct. 4 - Genesee CC, 2 p.m.
Oct.. 6 - Finger Lakes CC, noon
Oct. 7 - Essex CC, 11 a.m.
Oct.. 9 - at Cayuga CC, 2 p.m.
Oct. 13 - at Erie CC, 2 p.m.
NO. NAME YR. HIGH SCHOOL
1 Olivia Sinatra Fr.Jamestown
2 Kelsey Fish So. Panama
3 Meghan Wilcox Fr. Falconer
4 Andrea Washington So. Cassadaga Valley
5 Sydney Wheeler So. Randolph
6 Linnea Anderson So. Falconer
7 Jennifer Peterson So. Bemus Point
8 Samantha Colston Fr.Fredonia
11 Danelle Shelters So. Randolph
13 Nicole Mahoney So. Jamestown
14 Ashley Skelly So. Fredonia
15 Monica Buck So. Fredonia
16 Mary LucasFr. Maple Grove
17 Haley Sigular Fr. Jamestown
19 Mellody Sawyer Fr. Dunkirk
20 Emilyann Pleszewski So. Fredonia
21 Megan Lundy So.Spencerport