WARREN — The 21st century hasn’t always been kind to the Warren Fitzgerald girls soccer team, but things seem to be taking a turn for the better.
At press time, the Spartans were 11-7-1 overall and 9-4-1 in the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division, giving the program its second winning season in the last three years. The 11 wins are the most in at least two decades for the program.
Previously, the Spartans hadn’t had a winning season since 1999.
Coach Jason MacKay, who is a Fitzgerald alum, said continuity has been key this season.
“We have some particularly athletic players who are in their second year together,” MacKay said. “We had the talent last year, but they needed more time to jell. Despite last year’s struggles, they developed the confidence they needed to win games this year. ... The girls have an unprecedented level of unity that may be the biggest reason for this season’s outcome.”
At the end of this season, the Spartans will lose key players: captain and goalkeeper Julia Ciccone, midfielder/forward Sarah Brutus and defender Daryl Hughes.
MacKay said their contributions can’t be undersold, but the team is set up to compete for the foreseeable future.
Fitzgerald has 17 players eligible to return next season: nine juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen. That group is led by junior captain Julianna Shellnut, who has amassed nearly 30 points this season, and sophomore Randi Fitzgerald, who set a school record this season with 29 goals.
Juniors Denise Lee and Monika Harris, along with sophomore Rachell Fitzgerald and freshman Ahtziry Gutierrez, are expected to make big contributions going forward as well.
“We’ll miss our three seniors, but we should be quite competitive again,” MacKay said. “Next season I hope we can find a way to win against (Sterling Heights High and Roseville High) in particular. I’d like to see us improve enough to make a playoff run in the near future as well.”
Fitzgerald was 0-4 this season against MAC Silver leaders Sterling Heights and Roseville.
The Spartans took on Warren Regina in a Division 2 district quarterfinal May 30, after press time. For playoff updates and scores, visit candgnews.com/sports.