The Westminster Owls girls soccer team will look different this season -- on and off the field. Terry Malloy takes over as coach and tries to rebuild after losing many players to graduation and injuries.
Malloy, who coached the five previous seasons at Susquehanna University, is incorporating a possession-oriented attack with a 4-4-2 alignment (four defenders, four midfielders and two strikers).
"We want to try to keep the ball on the floor and maintain possession," Malloy said.
"We have some fairly skilled individuals and what I'm teaching them is pretty new. They are more attuned to the kick-and-run style so it's taking some time, but things are coming along."
Along with getting used to a new coach and a new system, the Owls also are getting used to one another and playing at the varsity level.
Three of the graduated players were first-team All-County selections, led by goalie Kara Hedges, who was a four-year starter and a first-team All-Metro selection as a senior.
Four projected starters this year have been lost to injury -- three of whom required knee surgery.
"This is a rebuilding year, there's no doubt about it," said Malloy.
"We're looking to stay competitive as they've done in the past and also try to maintain interest in the program. All we can do is hope for the best and keep our heads up."
With such losses and a lack of depth, the Owls will have to heavily rely on the few who are returning.
Senior Alison Liquefatto -- an All-County honorable mention last year -- will try to control the tempo at center midfield.
"She's a good possession player and that's really what I'm looking for. She gets her head up and distributes the ball very well," Malloy said.
Also at midfield this year will be senior Lauren Zuskin and junior Gena Magin, both of whom saw time on varsity last year.
Senior Julie Backof finally will get to play in goal for the Owls after playing out in the field while Hedges minded the net. "Julie's a great athlete with a good set of hands," Malloy said. "This is her year to show what she can do in goal. She'll be OK."
Senior Megan Greene will be the stopper and sophomore Becky Hunt will play at sweeper to lead an otherwise inexperienced defense.
Striker Mandy Hunt will lead the attack at striker. Another All-County honorable-mention choice last year, she has shown she has the potential to be a good scorer.
Perhaps the biggest need in the Owls' scheme of things is patience. A new coach with a new system and many new players takes time to all come together.
"We're still learning about one another and the key is to remain positive," Malloy said.
"We want to be able to compete right now and then dominate in a couple of years. It just takes time."