The 2011 season was arguably the Fairfield Ludlowe girls soccer team's least successful since the school re-opened.

The Falcons were hit hard by injuries, stumbling to a 6-10-1 campaign.

But Kate Dawson intends to change that quickly.

The first-year Falcons head coach -- a self-proclaimed "student of the game" -- has the pedigree and passion and is hopeful her squad absorbs her teachings.

"The tone is set for a positive and successful season," Dawson said. "The girls feel they have a lot to prove."

Dawson -- a two-year letterwinner at Siena College -- played both goalkeeper and midfield in college and spent the last three season coaching Fairfield Warde's freshman team. This will be Dawson's first chance to coach a varsity program.

"I'm excited in this new role," Dawson said. "Having experience in goal, you have a different vision for the field ... I hope that (Dawson's experience) will be an advantage for the girls."

Dawson also is pleased with her team's senior leadership. The Falcons have four captains, three of whom are three-or-more year starters. Katie Coyle, a four-year starter at midfield, returns from a torn ACL.

"She's healthy and done an incredible job preparing for the season," Dawson said.

Three-year starter Ally Doyle, and midfielder Emily Matis are two of Ludlowe's stalwarts. Bridget Clark was the Falcons goalkeeper and rounds out Ludlowe's four captains.

Doyle is Ludlowe's lead defender, and joining her in back is senior Kate Walpole and Courtney Mazza will aid her. Chrissy Bradley and Brittany Bentivegna will help them at the midfield.

Maddie Lesko, who started games in 2011, will backup Clark. Should Clark falter or get injured, Dawson is confident in Lesko.

"She's a solid goalkeeper," Dawson said.

Dawson's aware that her team is comprised of teenage girls and that their lives involve more than just soccer.

"They have academics, social lives, athletics and other activities they're involved in," Dawson said. "Kids today have a lot on their plates."

Yet, Dawson realizes what she has at Ludlowe and realizes success is possible.

"We have leadership, we have skill," she said. "Keeping the girls healthy is going to be important.";

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