The Bulldogs open the regular season on Nov. 13.
The Bulldogs have been to 16-straight district championships, but entering Pete Hald’s 28th season as head coach of Flagler Palm Coast’s girls soccer team, the Bulldogs begin 2018 as the underdogs. University lost little to graduation last season and returns arguably the most talented team in the area, and Spruce Creek once again will be a force to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs lost a plethora of talent from a team that won 20 games and a conference and district championship, namely in keeper Malia Dalzell, and top goal scorers Saba Amiri, Julia Lombardo and Brittany Murphy.
The Bulldogs found themselves in a similar predicament before the start of the 2017-18 season: They didn’t quite know who would step up to fill for the production lost the previous year.
“It’s going to be tough trying to replace that kind of production,” Hald said. “But people tend to step up because there’s nobody else there. I expect a few of these girls to step up their games and produce.”
Seniors Brielle Landry, Emily Puentes and Jaryn Paley are all players expected to “step up” this season.
“It’s just getting the newer players to have the same connection that we did last year,” Landry said. “Even though we did lose people, there’s still a lot of talent on this team. We’re going to really have to step up and be leaders of this team. We need to hold each other accountable. We need to encourage each other to do better.”
The Bulldogs open the regular season with three-straight road games, starting with Pedro Menendez on Nov. 13. Their first home game against Matanzas on Nov. 26.
For Hald, who started the girls soccer program at FPC in 1991, his next win would bring his career total to 450.
“I told our athletic director, Steve DeAugustino, that I’d retire once I got to 500,” Hald joked. “This is the best part of the year for me — the soccer stuff. Coming out here every day, watching the girls get better and better.”