ONEONTA — When a program graduates nine players, including six starters — two of whom earned all-state recognition — names are going to change.
If you’re one of the holdovers, it can get confusing.
“One thing I had trouble with, I’d see the position I wanted to play to and I’d start calling out someone else’s name,” Oneonta High senior Mariah Ruff said.
Still, following Tuesday’s 6-0 dismantling of Windsor in the Yellowjackets’ season-opener at the Wright National Soccer Campus, the new bosses on OHS’ girls soccer roster appear to be the same as the old ones.
They’re still very good, in other words.
Instead of Cami Cleaveland and Dani Nicosia — both all-state selections as seniors — directing the offense, it was Taylor Hitchcock and Abby Picinich.
Rather than Amy Hait, Jennifer Jelic and Shelby Cleaveland protecting goalie Emmalee Sloman, it was Rachel Brown, Alicia Arcidiacono and Meg Burns playing in front of keepers Maddie Grau and Miranda Kreger.
“People talk all the time about all the things we lost and we did lose a ton of talent and most of those girls are playing in college, but I keep trying to tell people we have a lot back,” said OHS coach Jerry Mackey, whose team fell, 3-1, in overtime to Greece Odyssey in last season’s Class B state final. “The kids we had coming off the bench last year are starting this year and now it’s their turn. We’re trying to pick up where we left off.”
On a cloudy and breezy day, the new-look Yellowjackets scored five times before the midway point of the first half.
When Ruff and Hitchcock converted shots from well outside the penalty box, Oneonta had a 2-0 lead 2 minutes, 11 seconds into play.
Ruff, who shared Daily Star Player of the Year honors with teammate Madison Miller in 2012, started the barrage with a perfectly placed shot from about 28 yards. In the right-center of the field, Ruff lofted a shot to the far post that made slight contact with the upper portion of the left post before setting into the goal to give Oneonta a 1-0 lead 1:20 into play.