Generally, winning just three games wouldn't breed a team much confidence.
But for the Brien McMahon girls soccer team, which went 3-10-2 last season, the mood is much more positive.
Of the Senators' losses last year, six were by two goals or less, including a 2-0 defeat to Westhill, a runner-up in the FCIAC playoffs and Class LL state tournament, and a 1-0 defeat to Ridgefield, a 12-win team during the regular season.
With playmaking seniors from last season's squad now returning--coupled with the addition of an impact transfer--the Senators are poised to take another step up the conference ranks.
"I think they felt like they were in a lot of games as opposed to the years past," McMahon head coach Nicole Stockfisch said. "I feel like they think they're making progress and they've been working hard in the offseason. I think they just have a lot of confience that they can improve."
Stockfisch, who is entering her third season at the helm, is aiming for McMahon to "be competitors with everybody."
"We're just looking to improve on last year and just compete. And not be a team that everyone comes to and thinks they're just going to beat," she said.
For McMahon to reach its goal, its senior core is expected to play a significant role. At forward, Leslie Ramirez will pair with senior Jazmin Hernandez, a transfer from a school in New York, in an effort to improve an offense that averaged just over one goal per match in 2010. Stockfish explained that Hernandez has the skillset to make an impact.
"She has the ability to score--move the ball and create offense," said Stockfisch, adding, "She's really good at creating and she's got a great shot."
Despite the departure of Tori Martinez, a four-year contributor at midfield, the Senators return key contributors at the position, including seniors Karley Barreno and Dana Bradley. And on defense, senior Kate Buellesbach will try to replace the production left by Morgan Machette, an all-FCIAC second-team selection as a senior.
"I think we're pretty well-rounded everywhere," Stockfisch said.
Junior Shangyne Samuels, whose season was cut short last year after sustaining a broken foot, is expected to shoulder much of the goalkeeping duties for McMahon. Stockfisch said that Samuels' skills have "improved a lot."
"She's a phenomenonal goalie. It was a big loss for us last year when she got hurt," Stockfisch explained.
McMahon will be tested early this season, opening with back-to-back home games against Fairfield Warde (9-3-3 in 2010) on Sept. 13 and defending FCIAC champion Greenwich two days later. The Senators first road tests come against Darien (9-5-1) on Sept. 19 and perennial power Westhill on Sept. 23.
With it still being early, Stockfisch expects to learn more about her team.
"It's been a learning experience every year so far. You learn what works and what doesn't, and the changes that you make into the next year to be more successful," she said.