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Nipmuc Girls Soccer Storms into Districts

Nipmuc girls soccer head coach Howard Cohen doesn't mince words when it comes to evaluating his 2011 team. "This is the most skilled team I have ever coached," he said. "When we are playing well, I don't think there is a team that plays more attractively than we do. Whether that translates into wins, who knows."
So far, it has translated into one of the best seasons any team in the district has been able to muster. The Warriors head into the play-offs with a 13-2-2 mark, and will be one of the top seeds once the post-season gets underway this weekend and into next week. "I knew we would be strong, but I didn't know we would put it together this well," said Cohen. "We are still a young team with only one senior."
That senior is goalkeeper and co-captain Kelsey O'Hagan, who started the year with three straight shutouts and led a Nipmuc effort that allowed just one goal through its first six games. On the season, Nipmuc has outscored opponents by a total of 41-4. "The defense has stood out, and Kelsey has really improved in goal," said Cohen.
Junior co-captain, Rachel Bloznalis, and freshman, Gaby Cabrera, who have combined for more than 20 goals on the year, have spearheaded the offense.
"Rachel plays both an offensive and a defensive role for us," said Cohen. "She is a returning All-State player and can play in our offensive formations but also provide some solidity in the back when we need that." Cabrera is a talented young player and is fighting for a spot on the US National 14 and under team as one of the players in the national talent pool.
Emma Blanchard and Nicole Scott are both junior co-captains of the talented Warrior squad. "(Emma and Nicole) have been great on defense this year, and Emma really controls the midfield," said Cohen.
Nipmuc has shown its offensive prowess with an eight-goal explosion against St. Peter-Marian and a five goal output against Douglas, but the defense has kept the Warriors in every game and on top of most with 10 shutouts on the season. Efforts like that have Cohen confident headed into a strong district tournament pool that includes likely top seed Auburn, who is 15-0-1. "When we play well, we can play with anyone out there," he said.




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