WOONSOCKET – Mary Green knew she was coming into a good situation this winter when she accepted the head coaching job at Mount St. Charles.
She didn’t realize it was going to be as magnificent as it has been.
The former Bryant University two-sport standout has seen her Mounties roll out to a 4-1 mark – the best start in the program’s six-year history – and take charge of Division III-North, quickly establishing themselves as the “team to beat” in the five-team circuit.
Before absorbing its first setback of the season on Friday to also-undefeated crossover foe Narragansett, MSC had zipped through the first half of its III-North schedule by outscoring its division rivals, 48-31.
But wins and stats only tell part of the story of this team, which Green, who is currently a graduate student at Bryant, inherited from last season’s coach, Kayla Manzi.
Ironically, Green and Manzi know each other very well. Not only were they roommates at Bryant, but they were also teammates for two seasons on the Bulldogs’ lacrosse team, with Manzi graduating in 2010 and Green picking up her diploma last spring.
“Kayla got a job and moved to Boston,” noted Green, a native of Merrick, N.Y. “She kind of threw my name into the mix, and that’s how I ended up here.”
Green was just coming off her final season with the Bulldogs’ soccer team, receiving a chance to play as a grad student because she missed her junior season with a torn ACL that she suffered midway through her sophomore season on the lacrosse team.
Manzi encouraged Green to apply for the job, and not only did she put in a very good word for her, she also told her what to expect as a rookie coach.
“Kayla only coached them for a year, but she did tell me to get ready to just fall in love immediately with all of them, that they’re a great bunch of girls,” said Green. “Obviously, high school girls are going to be high school girls – I was one myself – and she told me to just be ready to deal with the proms, the stories, and everything like that. But mostly, she just told me that I would be very excited to come work at Mount St. Charles with this group of girls because they’re that great.”
While all the players have been great, so have the results, and even though Green could easily take all the credit for the team’s hot start, she deflected it to Manzi, who inherited a team that won a total of 12 games in its first four seasons of existence and led them to an 8-6 mark and their first-ever playoff berth last season.
“Kayla turned around the program,” added Green. “She definitely made an impact in her year here. The team made it to the playoffs for the first time and she definitely gave this team stuff to look forward to and work on down the road.
“She gave me a great team. We’re 4-1 now, and it’s really all the girls doing this. They’re just making me look good.”
Green had a bit of nervousness before her first practice with her new team in mid-March, but a couple of hours later, she ended it with nothing but smiles.
“I didn’t know what I was really walking into,” admitted Green. “I knew that the program had been around for four or five years, but after that first day, I remember calling my dad and telling him, ‘These girls are all actually really good.’ I was pleasantly surprised.”
The squad has indeed been really good, and when you begin talking about its players, you have to start with their four veteran senior captains – Meaghan Walsh, Lauren Caruso, Rachel Leclaire, and Kelly O’Neill.
Walsh, a three-sport standout at Mount, is the team’s leading scorer with 11 goals, and Caruso and her sister, freshman standout Elizabeth Caruso (10 goals), have also teamed up to form a nice scoring punch.
O’Neill is a solid all-around player who is currently out with a knee injury she suffered in the final minutes of Mount’s 12-9 victory over Scituate last Wednesday, and Leclaire, a battle-tested goalie, has really given the team a boost with her play.
“I’m so glad we have a goalie,” noted Green. “That’s probably your biggest concern walking into a team that you don’t know. I always respect goalies because it’s a position that not everyone’s willing to jump into. I was definitely happy when I saw Rachel with all her equipment on ready to go the first day of practice.”
In addition to a strong group of seniors that also features Alex Lewis, Green also boasts plenty of talent and balance in her junior and sophomore classes.
Junior Ally Goralski, who has scored seven goals, “is definitely going to be a player to watch,” added Green, and Shaina Bauersachs, who leads the team in assists (seven) and Jane Moniz also lead the way among the 11th graders.
Of the sophomores, Green owns three standout starters in Sam McPhee, who has netted eight goals, Jordan McComb, and Carly Imbriani.
Green also got a lift this past week from some of her junior varsity players, who helped fill in the blanks in three games while some of her players had to tend to off-the-field matters during the school’s vacation week.
“We were missing a few girls, but everyone stepped up to the plate this week and realized that it was their time to shine,” said Green. “We wouldn’t have been able to play this week if it weren’t for them, so those players deserve a lot of credit.”
In a season full of ups, last Friday’s 13-3 defeat to the Mariners – a team that won the Division II-South championship last year, but surprisingly was sent down to the Division III ranks – was Mount’s first down moment, but Green and her team are ready to quickly put aside that loss and move on.
“Our first goal was to be undefeated, but now we’re going to have to rework that,” Green said with a smile. “We just want to give it all we got the rest of the season. I think all the girls are expecting to make the playoffs again and make a respectable run. They definitely have their heads set on making it to the championship game, and when they talk about it, I’m like, ‘Let’s focus on our next game, girls, not on any games down the road.’
“That’s our main goal, but we just want to keep getting better. There’s little goals and there’s big goals. The big goal obviously is to get to the dance, but the little goals are working on things like throwing, catching, standing still, working on our transition. There’s work to do, but we’re going to be a better team for it.”