In a season wrought with injury, Co-Captain Jeanine Moreau ’16 and Natalia Suarez ’17 have provided unflinching stability for Andover Girls Soccer on the defensive side of the ball. Without being subbed out once this season, these two players have played crucial roles in the success of the team.
With defensive stalwarts Deyana Marsh ’17 and Kaitlin Hoang ’17 injured, the back line needed vocal leaders to fill the holes. Moreau and Suarez stepped up to form the core of Andover’s defense, occupying the two center back positions.
Moreau, a Senior from Litchfield, CT., is a seasoned veteran at the center back position and acts as an immense leader on the field.
Nikki Dlesk ’17 said, “[Moreau] is really the voice of the field – she just has such an amazing view on where everyone should be and who they should be covering defensively.”
Suarez, an Upper from Andover, normally plays in the midfield and is new to the center back position. She has been critical in filling in for Marsh, the team’s designated starting center back.
Transitioning from the midfield, Suarez has filled the hole capably. “While [Suarez] is obviously a natural midfielder, she has really been a star in the back and a blessing to us all because we didn’t have another central defender who could take [Marsh’s] place,” said Emma Murphy ’17.
The chemistry between the two center backs is a large part of what enables the team to excel on the field. Having played together for two years at different positions, Suarez was eager to play alongside Moreau at the back end of the field.
Suarez said, “I moved into the middle with Moreau, and while she and I have never played next to each other, we have always really wanted to do so. It was actually kind of exciting.”
This compatibility allows Moreau and Suarez to excel in communication, a skill that is highly valued on defense. Moreau said, “[Suarez] and I are trying to help the other players stay organized, answer any questions they have and communicate on the field as much as possible.”
Not only are the two able to stifle opposing attackers, but they also have good ball sense and strong offensive instincts. Moreau and Suarez often help catalyze attacking plays from the back.
In an email to The Phillipian, Tookie Wilson ’18 said, “[Moreau] and [Suarez] are really strong field players individually and become even stronger when they start lacing balls to the midfield and strikers.”
Cassie Chin ’17 said, “If you looked at them from a technichal perspective, their skills equate to those any forward on our team.”
While Moreau and Suarez excel athletically, they also possess indefatigable attitudes that inspire the entire team. They have embraced Andover Girls Soccer’s “Whatever it Takes” attitude and are willing to do anything for their teammates. The two have filled their new roles with overwhelmingly positive attitudes.
“Even in the midst of several injuries in the defensive line, they have never once dropped their heads or viewed the situation in a negative light. These two girls have both made my transition into the back line smooth and have helped to build my confidence when playing on the field,” wrote Britney Bourassa ’18 in an email to The Phillipian.
That said, Moreau is reluctant to take credit for all of her team’s successes. “I wouldn’t give all the credit to just [Suarez and me]: all the girls are working really hard, and I think it starts with our forwards trying to keep the ball forward and our midfielders really working hard to get back and help us defend,” she said.
No one on the team has been more impressed with the duo’s performance than Head Coach Lisa Joel.
“The shape of the back is critical: if that falls apart, everything falls apart. So [Moreau and Suarez] know what we expect, and I have no doubt that even though it may not be where [Suarez] is racing to play, she can do it and she can do it very well,” said Coach Joel.
As more and more players return from injury, Andover’s already solid defensive line only looks to improve as the team moves deeper into its season.
Editor’s Note: Cassie Chin ’17 is a Sports Associate for The Phillipian.