By Joe Skinner
South Riding (April 3, 2015) — The Freedom High School Eagles are hitting their stride in the early part of this spring season, as they are fielding six varsity programs with early wins over non-conference opponents. Conference play is right around the corner, and LoCoSports will be previewing the seasons of the Eagles’ softball, boys soccer, baseball and boys lacrosse programs.
Lady Eagles Softball program continues to grow
The Lady Eagles are taking on the new season with a lot of firsts. Jennifer Cusato will be entering her first year as head coach of the softball team, and the softball program will introduce their first junior varsity team in school history.
“As the new head coach I believe in a fresh start and a clean slate,” Cusato said. “Day in and day out the athletes in this program show determination, grit, dedication, effective teamwork, respect for the game and a willingness to learn and improve with each passing day.”
After a 2014 campaign that yielded three wins, the Lady Eagles are optimistic for the upcoming season.
“I believe that if you put effective hard work and solid dedication into something, that is the right recipe for producing your desired results,” Cusato said.
In the first year Freedom fielded a JV softball team, Cusato kept 25 players combined between the two teams and is hopeful that the younger players will be able to provide future success.
“[The JV team] is important to develop and plan for the future of the program,” Cusato said. “[I want] to be able to look back at the end of the season and say ‘we gave it everything we had each day and are proud of our work.’”
The Lady Eagles have already matched their win total from last season as they have jumped out to 3-1 early this season.
Eagles boys soccer’s youth hungry for postseason success
Freedom boys soccer could be considered to be in ‘rebuilding’ with only three seniors on the roster entering the 2015 season, but head coach Brian Peters expects some of the younger players to be taking leadership roles to help the Eagles improve.
“[Juniors] Greg Paredes and Andrew Skaer are two of the players that I am expecting to take leadership roles,” Peters said. “Both of these players have shown a strong work ethic and knowledge of the game. I am looking for them to be coaches on the field.”
According to Peters, overcoming the team’s youth is the biggest challenge facing them this season as their goal is to improve on last season’s record of 2-14-2. Peters has nine juniors and sophomores compared to his three seniors – who he wants to mentor the underclassmen.
“[The seniors] are realizing that their time on the high school soccer field is coming to an end soon, and they need to make the most out of every opportunity,” Peters said. “Their approach to practices and games helps dictate how the underclassmen approach things. My seniors are a part of this program not only for their soccer skills, but more importantly for their character.
The Eagles are already out to a 2-1 start early in the season.
Eagles baseball looks to repeat on a state tournament appearance
Freedom baseball caught fire towards the latter part of the 2014 season and rode the momentum towards conference final, region final and state semifinal appearances. The Eagles lost all starting outfielders going into the 2015 season, and with only six seniors on this year’s team, leadership will be key.
“Senior leadership will be a big factor; we don’t need seniors to be the only leaders, but the current class has been a part of a winning product now for years,” head coach Mark Wrighte said.
The Eagles have loaded up their non-conference schedule, facing private schools such as St. Mary’s and Flint Hill. Along with other matchups with J.E.B. Stuart, Westfield, Osbourn and Lake Braddock, the Eagles are preparing themselves for conference play with strong teams from Fairfax and Manassas.
“I expect us to be perfect with the little things, and hope we can execute a few big things as well,” Wrighte said. “Collectively, a few big, and a lot of small things will lead to a good season.”
The Eagles have performed well against their tough non-conference opponents, as they sit at 5-1 coming out of spring break.
Eagles boys lacrosse looking up with senior leadership
Freedom has never had a lacrosse team that has reached a championship game, and head coach Warren Danzenbaker tells his team just that very often. He doesn’t instill them with this fact as an insult or to induce self-pity, he uses it as motivation for his players.
“I tell the team all the time, that our program has never won anything, never been to a championship game, that it’s hard to get there and none of the teams in our conference are going to make it easy to get there,” Danzenbaker said. “We have several teams in our conference who have a history of success, like Briar Woods, Broad Run and Stone Bridge. We are working hard to be included in that conversation.”
The Eagles have nine seniors on the roster this year, with most of them having three year varsity experience. Danzenbaker feels that these seniors not only motivate themselves to win, but also motivate the team and the younger players around them.
“I know [the seniors]want to earn the right to play for a championship, and they push the younger players to compete,” Danzenbaker said. “They know about those long bus rides home. It’s good to have perspective in the program.”
Danzenbaker is also very excited about some of the youth his program has this season. Freshmen Nick Neis and Andrew Pirko, along with sophomores Andrew Donovan and Hunter Capestany are among the players Danzenbaker expects to be contributing right away.
The Eagles are a perfect 2-0 already in their 2015 campaign.
Joe Skinner is a sophomore at Freedom High School in South Riding. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.