Holy Trinity girls embracing new challenges


Holy Trinity's Kailey Dunne delivers a header during the team's season opener against MCC. Dunne, who has signed to play at Queens University of Charlotte, will play a huge role in the Tigers' attempt to get back to the state tournament.


The road to a district championship and a spot in the state playoffs will be a lot tougher for the Holy Trinity girls soccer team this season.

But the Tigers aren’t backing away from the challenge. They’re embracing it.

“The district has changed, so we have to adapt to the new environment,” Holy Trinity coach Joey Messina said. “We know we have to play more competitive games more consistently. But we’re willing to adapt and compete.”

Holy Trinity previously competed in Class 1A, District 11, where since 2012, the Tigers won six championships and finished runner up twice.

Following a restructuring of districts and regions by the FHSAA prior to this season, Holy Trinity is now in Class 3A, District 10. That puts the Tigers in the mix with Lincoln Park, John Carroll, Cocoa Beach and three other teams that have a long history of making it to the state tournament – Edgewood, MCC and West Shore.

“I think we’re underdogs a little bit,” senior goalkeeper Payton Yates said after Holy Trinity tied MCC 0-0 in the season opener.

“We’re a small team. We’re not physically big. … When the other teams look at us, I’m sure they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s HT.’ But we have a lot of heart, more heart than the other teams, which is why we do so well in games like this.”

Yates, who has signed to play at North Alabama, anchors a defense that includes a pair of young, improving players in the back – freshman Emerson Euziere and eighth-grader Lani Watt.

The rest of the Tigers lineup features a talented mix of veterans and newcomers that includes Kailey Dunne (who signed with Queens University of Charlotte), Amelia Anello, Kendall Harrison, Julia McCarthy, Julia McNatt, Aislin Scully, Erin Sherden, Averie Schweitzer, Allie Chamberland, Bianca Fontanin, Braelyn Wahy and Sky Godfrey.

Dunne, who is a big part of the engine that makes the Tigers go, received praise from Messina following the MCC game.

“Kailey Dunne, what a game she played,” he said. “When we lost the ball, her will to win the ball back was amazing. In transition, when we lose it, she closes the ball down so quickly. And then at that point, she does a really good job of initiating the attack.”

That attack, Dunne said, should be helped out by the addition of Sherden, a freshman who certainly made her presence felt on opening night.

“I think it gives us a lot of strength up top, because we’re able to play it in to her feet and then bounce it back off of her to play to our other strikers,” Dunne said of Sherden.

“She makes good runs up top and works well with our other strikers.”

The Tigers (0-1-1) will play at Geneva tonight before returning home to play Rockledge on Wednesday and Satellite on Friday.

Messina said the key to the Tigers’ season will be having his players continue to do the right things, which means continuing to train and continuing to get better each time they’re out on the field.

The road may be tougher, but there’s no doubt the Tigers are determined to get back to the state playoffs.

“I think we definitely have a strong mentality this year to win,” Yates said. “There’s a lot of desire on this team. I’m happy about that because it’s hard to be on a team when no one cares. But everyone’s really happy to be here.”