GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Sports

October 28, 2009

Anatomy of a turnaround

For Gloucester, it took the refreshing enthusiasm of a first-year coach

After going winless from 2006-2008, a mere few wins would have been considered a success for the Gloucester High girls soccer team this fall. But first-year head coach Alex White has been the backbone of by the far the season's biggest surprise.

White, who was an assistant during last year's winless season, took over the reigns from 2008 head coach from Keith Leavitt. She is the fourth head coach in the last four seasons, and inherited a struggling program that many believed would struggle again after last year's 0-17-1 record.

Instead of struggling, White has led her team to an unbelievable turnaround. After Tuesday's 3-2 win over Swampscott, the Fishermen clinched a berth in the state tournament, their first since 2005. Gloucester is now 8-7-1 with one regular season game left on Monday against rival Danvers.

Fittingly, White was named Northeastern Conference South Coach of the Year. The team also sports four Northeastern Conference All-Stars in senior captain Katina Tibbets, sophomore's Clare Pleuler and Nicole Repucci and freshman Kali Cook.

Despite the team's Cinderella season, White remains humble.

"The girls have worked so hard this year and they deserve all the success that comes their way," White said. "They have bought into everything I have told them. When I have told them to make adjustments they have done it. I was hoping for four wins and we doubled that. After we beat Lynn English the first time I thought we had an 80-percent chance of making the playoffs, but after we lost to them the second time I thought, 'There goes our chances.' They showed a lot of heart."

To say the team has been through hardships over the years would be a severe understatement.

The team had to cope with a new head coach and a new system in each of the last four seasons. Their head coach in 2007, Matt Kersker, left the team during training camp.

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