Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Kelly Makarowsky, left, and Kylie Gifford compete over a ball during Thursday's Broadalbin-Perth girls soccer practice in Broadalbin.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Kat Rebis, left, and Tatiana Ivery go after a ball during Thursday's Broadalbin-Perth girls soccer practice in Broadalbin.
Michael Kelly/Recorder staff Erica Kordyjak, left, and Hannah Priamo compete in a drill during Thursday's Broadalbin-Perth girls soccer practice in Broadalbin.
By MICHAEL KELLY
BROADALBIN -- The Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots soccer team is not looking for any sympathy.
The squad has the unenviable task this season of replacing the graduated Katie Herba, the program's all-time leader in goals scored and assists. But head coach Rob Klug said Thursday that his team will adapt to its new reality.
"Might we have to switch how we play? Sure," said Klug. "Do we want to? No, because we have people that can step up."
There is certainly evidence that Klug is right. The squad returns all but three of its starters from 2013, so the Lady Patriots are not lacking for experienced talent.
"That definitely makes things a lot easier," said senior Kylie Gifford. "We're not missing many starters, so a lot of us are used to playing with one another already."
And, the group does not care which of the Lady Patriots get to grab the extra goals to be scored with Herba missing.
"It's always fun to score goals, but it's a team effort," junior Danielle Biggers said.
While Herba did the bulk of the scoring a year ago, many of the younger Lady Patriots gained their first real dose of varsity experience.
In a 14-4 season that ended in the Section II Class BB semifinals, there were many positives for the group to take into 2014.
The Lady Patriots have built on that during the offseason. The program's players competed in a spring league together before working out together a few times a week this summer.
"They've really been busting their tails all summer to get better," Klug said.
"We've all been working hard, so everyone is improving," Biggers said.
Klug said the thing that surprised him the most about his team's first few practices was how well the squad was playing together.
"The way they've come together the past couple days and stuck together through some learning pains had been good," he said.
The growing pains for the Lady Patriots have a lot to do with figuring out the best way for the squad to reinvent itself for 2014. While many of the team's starters are back, Klug said, some of them will see themselves at new positions this season.
"We're working on how all the pieces to the puzzle fit together," he said.
"People have changed places for us, but we're getting used to where people should be," Gifford said.
While the team lost a pair of all-Foothills Council first-team performers in Herba and keeper Rachel Orapello, Gifford returns after earning the same honor last season. Also, Biggers and fellow junior Erica Kordyjak were second-team performers, while juniors Tatiana Ivery and Kendrah Stewart grabbed honorable mentions.
That returning talent should help the Lady Patriots navigate a new-look Foothills Council now including Amsterdam and Schuylerville. The addition of those teams means the league is now in a two-division format for girls soccer.
When the league season rolls around in early September, Biggers said the Lady Patriots will be ready.
"We have to go in with the mentality that we want to win," she said. "We have to play the full 80 minutes, and then hopefully we'll get the results."
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