Those growing pains are letting up.
The Poultney girls soccer team endured some hard knocks in the first couple of years of the program but the Blue Devils had been learning the game under the watchful eye of coach Hannah Corkum those first two year. They just might be ready to deal some of those hard knocks to the opposition this season.
Everyone around the Southern Vermont League is familiar with Fair Haven’s talented twins Megan and Emma Ezzo. Now, the Blue Devils have Ezzo twins of their own and Corkum loves what she sees in freshmen McKenzie and Courtney Ezzo.
McKenzie, like cousin Emma, is a goalkeeper. That gives Corkum some flexibility. Hannah Webster could be solid in the goal after seeing some action there last year but she is also a very talented field player.
“I really don’t want to lose Hannah in the field,” Corkum said.
Kaitlyn DeBonis and Kayden L’Esperance give the Blue Devils some size and physicality up front.
Freshman Bella Mack will use her endurance to help the Devils control the midfield area.
“She is the Energizer Bunny,” Corkum said.
Ericka Woodbury will likely join DeBonis and L’Esperance on the forward line and Corkum will be searching for roles for Genesis Mead, Emily Hanley, Laura Winters and Julie Farley.
Hannah Welch is a sophomore who comes with plenty of varsity experience, joining the program as an eighth grader. She will direct the action as the center midfielder.
Emma Hayford will also bring experience to the team, along with Grace Hayes, the lone senior.
The Division IV Blue Devils benefited greatly from scrimmaging Fair Haven, a very talented Division II team, during the summer.
“They learned a lot from playing against a team at a higher level,” Corkum said. “I can tell them something, but when they see those girls do what I am telling them, they will say, ‘Oh, that’s what you meant.’”
It was gratifying for Corkum to greet the team at the opening practice on Tuesday and see the maturation that has given the players a much more advanced skill level than when the program began a couple of years ago.
“We don’t have to start from the beginning. We can start learning more advanced strategies and techniques,” Corkum said.
The Blue Devils have their season opener at Mount St. Joseph on Sept. 24.
They will play a nine or 10 game schedule and defending Division IV state champion Proctor is the only team the Devils will meet twice.
Corkum has a roster of 15 but is contemplating bringing up some eighth graders.
The Blue Devils went 1-12-1 last season before being bounced from the playoffs in the opening round by No. 2 West Rutland.
Corkum and the Devils have every right to believe much better things are in store for this fall.