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Sunapee Girls Soccer Looks to Defend Title

  • Myles Cooney, head coach of Sunapee girls soccer, conditions his team to defend their 2013 state championship title during practice in Sunapee, N.H. Thursday, August 21, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Myles Cooney, head coach of Sunapee girls soccer, conditions his team to defend their 2013 state championship title during practice in Sunapee, N.H. Thursday, August 21, 2014.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

  • Myles Cooney, head coach of Sunapee girls soccer, calls the girls in for a cheer during practice at Sunapee Middle High School Thursday, August 21, 2014. The Lakers won the 2013 division IV state title over Woodsville with penalty kicks. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Myles Cooney, head coach of Sunapee girls soccer, calls the girls in for a cheer during practice at Sunapee Middle High School Thursday, August 21, 2014. The Lakers won the 2013 division IV state title over Woodsville with penalty kicks.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

  • Jessica Parsons and her Sunapee soccer teammates holds a plank position while head coach Myles Cooney retrieves balls to continue practice in Sunapee, N.H. Thursday, August 21, 2014. The Lakers are gearing up to defend their 2013 state championship title.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Jessica Parsons and her Sunapee soccer teammates holds a plank position while head coach Myles Cooney retrieves balls to continue practice in Sunapee, N.H. Thursday, August 21, 2014. The Lakers are gearing up to defend their 2013 state championship title.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

  • Myles Cooney, head coach of Sunapee girls soccer, conditions his team to defend their 2013 state championship title during practice in Sunapee, N.H. Thursday, August 21, 2014.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Myles Cooney, head coach of Sunapee girls soccer, calls the girls in for a cheer during practice at Sunapee Middle High School Thursday, August 21, 2014. The Lakers won the 2013 division IV state title over Woodsville with penalty kicks. <br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Jessica Parsons and her Sunapee soccer teammates holds a plank position while head coach Myles Cooney retrieves balls to continue practice in Sunapee, N.H. Thursday, August 21, 2014. The Lakers are gearing up to defend their 2013 state championship title.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Sunapee — Taylor O’Mara, Kyle Hershey, Taylor Usko, Courtney Dunnells and Sammy Rosignoll are all seniors on a Sunapee High soccer team that won a New Hampshire Division IV state championship in 2013.

That victory came against Woodsville, but all five girls agreed the semifinal win over Derryfield was the most important triumph.

“It’s always Derryfield,” said Rossignol, who not only was on the 2013 title team, but was on the championship team in 2011 as a freshman.

According to the girls, Derryfield is always the team with a target on its back, not only because it has enjoyed so much success, but the NHIAA bylaws that allows the private Manchester school to search out students.

“They can recruit,” said O’Mara, 16.

“I think we’re the fourth smallest public school (141 students, 66 girls in grades 9-12) in the state,” said Sunapee coach Myles Cooney, who agreed that Derryfield is always in the crosshairs and that they never have to rebuild. “They just reload,” he said.

While there is a lot of Derryfield talk around Sunapee during this preseason, it is fair to guess that there is a lot of Sunapee talk going on in Derryfield. In the last eight years, all under Cooney, the Lakers have compiled a 107-36-3 mark with three state championships and a postseason record of 16-5.

Sunapee has been a hotbed of success in other sports as well, with the baseball team winning its third championship in four years last spring and both boys and girls basketball teams a reaching the final four last winter. Volleyball has also enjoyed a resurgence.

“All our major sports, with the exception of golf, made it to the final four,” said Sunapee Athletic Director Tom Frederick. “This a pretty unique place.”

Many of the girls soccer players took up the sport at a young age and have enjoyed support that not comes from the school and the community. Cooney explained that the girls start playing as young as kindergartners with the recreation departments and they also have the advantage of clubs such as Kearsarge United and Hanover Lightning.

“We’re lucky the 1-89 corridor is a hotbed for soccer,” said Cooney.

Added O’Mara: “You know, we also take pride in what we do. Soccer is fun, but we want to win and we’re a bunch of girls that like each other.”

Hershey, 17, a outside halfback, said that she knows when she gets older that she will look back and realize how wonderful it has been to win a state championship and the titles don’t always just go to the team.

“I like it when we get a lot of fans to come to the games,” she said. “We have these (fans) in school we call whities or greenies and everybody, including the parents, wears white or green to the games.”

Rossignol has also played on two championship teams and the fact that they had such success has not escaped her.

“I feel very blessed,” said Rossignol, 17, a midfielder. “I think it is just awesome to see all those banners (Sherburne Gym) on the wall. It’s a nice feeling to be part of such success.”

“I think I stared playing soccer when I was 6 or 7,” said Usko, who played some high school soccer as an eighth-grader. Usko is also among the players who are aware of the dangers of concussions. They have talked about braces she has seen some players use around their foreheads to reduce the shock of heading the ball.

When all the girls were asked if there was some concern about concussions because there is so much heading the ball, there were some mixed reactions.

“I know it concerns my mom,” said O’Mara.

Sunapee opens the season on Sept. 3 at Wilton-Lyndborough. The first home game is Sept. 9 against Newport. The Lakers will again play two games against Division III Stevens, which has now become a nice rivalry even though the Cardinals have an enrollment that is more than three times that of the Lakers and the games tend to be rougher.

“It’s just the way they play in Division III,” said Cooney, who had no problem with the way the Cardinals play.

“I think it helps us when the tournament comes around to have played a larger school like Stevens,” said Frederick.