Hawks have talent, depth to go far this season
Viera High's Taylor Collins (No. 3) leads the Hawks with five goals this season. Viera, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A by MaxPreps, has a of depth and ability that could lead to a long postseason run.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
As one of five seniors on this year’s Viera High girls soccer team, goalkeeper Jordan Spira has seen the Hawks accomplish some big things.
But this year’s team … this one has a chance to be really special.
“I feel so blessed to be on this team,” Spira said. “I think the work ethic is incredible. It’s an incredible group of girls. There’s so much talent, but … I think the work ethic, even more than the talent, has really proven how far we’ll go this season.
“I have a lot of faith that we’re going to do well.”
The Hawks are already off to a good start. Viera is 5-0-1 and ranked No. 17 in the state – No. 2 in Class 6A – by MaxPreps heading into Thursday’s game against West Shore (5-0) in what should be another good, early-season test for the Hawks.
What makes Viera such a tough test for opponents is not just the talent in the starting lineup, but the depth that pervades throughout the Hawks’ roster.
“We have a lot of new players in the back this year, a lot of strong players in the midfield and kind of a mixture up top,” Spira said. “But the way everyone works for each other, I think, is the biggest thing.
“If there are new players in the back, they’re new to that position, the communication has been really helpful in helping them know what they should be doing. And then the talent and the work ethic is there to carry it out.”
Sophomore Lauren Mieczkowski is back to lead the defense, with help from junior Caroline Boston, who has moved from defensive midfielder to center back.
Senior Taylor Collins leads the Hawks with five goals while junior Talorie Crafton – who missed all of last year with a hip injury – has four goals and two assists. Freshman Taylor George has three goals and four assists. Senior Madelyn Rosario and freshman Kaley Vitaliano also have three goals for the Hawks, who have outscored opponents 24-2 so far this season.
The log list of other players who are having big impacts for the Hawks this season includes seniors Catherine Koegel and Johanna Webb; juniors Savannah Oxley, Piper McHenry, Reese Pulliam, Serena Zarzana, Allie Worley, Amanda Vitaliano, Megan Cook and Ariana Valentin; Sophomores Mai Jensen, Morgan Brubaker (last year’s top scorer on the JV team); Alexandra Rowe and Victoria Wehner.
Viera already holds a 1-0 victory over arch-rival Melbourne, which should once again be the biggest obstacle that stands between the Hawks and a second-straight district championship.
“I’m really positive about it,” Viera coach Cal Dixon said of his team’s outlook following that win over Melbourne.
“It’s a really good squad, and not just the starting 11 or the girls that played today. I think we have good squad depth. I just spoke to them about the girls that didn’t get much time, or didn’t get in. I told them we’re going to need them throughout the season if we’re going to win the Cape Coast Conference, if we’re going to have the ambition of getting to the state final and winning the state final.
“We’re going to need a whole squad. We’re not just going to use the players that we used tonight to win the whole season. It’s just not going to happen.”
As Dixon told the Hawks that night, they will likely see Melbourne again in the district final, and possibly in the regional semifinals. St. Thomas Aquinas, a perennial state title contender, could be waiting should the Hawks get through their region.
But there is one team Viera won’t have to deal with. Montverde Academy, which not only eliminated Viera from the playoffs the past two years on the way to winning a pair of state championships, has gone independent and won’t be competing for the state title.
While that certainly opens the door for the rest of the teams in Class 6A, the Hawks know there is a lot of work left to be done in order to have the kind of season they want.
Fortunately, this is a group hungry for success.
“Incredibly (hungry),” Spira said. “We have a lot of young players and that fire is new, and it’s fresh. They’re all very excited about it.”