The Foran girls’ soccer team has had plenty of time to reflect on a 9-5-2 season.

Coach Casey Blake wants her players to understand how that success came about.

“They know what it takes to not only maintain this level of excellence that we are trying to create, but to get better every year,” Blake said. “This is what we harp on — celebrate accomplishments because you have worked incredibly hard to get here — but at the end of the day, last season is over, and let’s use it as something to build on for this coming season.”

The Lions first had to take on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I said to the girls, ‘We are going out to play soccer but that we are also going out to have fun.’ With the way things are (pandemic), you are not guaranteed those 12 games. We could play two games and then something happens, and everything could be pulled away. We are going to go out playing with no regrets, having fun out there, and doing what we do.

“They enjoy soccer so much, even the cohorts, just getting back on the field,” Blake said. “I gave them an offseason workout package and kept in touch with them, just in general. It’s nice to get back on the field and back to playing soccer again. We had first scrimmage Saturday morning against Stratford and the girls were having a blast out there. They had fun, they played soccer and it was nice to see the newcomers mixing it up.”

Anna Byers and Isabel Morales are team captains.

“They are versatile players, which is great. In my opinion, the more positions you can play the more well-rounded you are,” Blake said. “You have better soccer-IQ, you know what each position requires. Anna was predominately a forward last year and played a little bit of center-mid. This year she will be a forward and a little bit center-back. Isabelle has played forward and outside mid and some outside back.”

Foran has plenty to look back on. The Lions qualified for the SCC tournament for the first time. They had a CIAC state tournament first-round home game for the first time and defeated Bristol Eastern, 3-0. Foran didn’t make any cuts. It has 33 players, including 4 or 5 freshmen. All players from last season returned.

“A nice thing is that we’ve always had an influx of talented young players,” Blake said. “A good number of them have been able to play varsity or swing (jayvee as well). And while we lost great players to graduation, these players will help fill that void.”

Foran starts its 12-game regular season with a familiar foe on Oct. 2.

“We open with our favorite: Jonathan Law,” Blake said. “There is nothing like opening with a cross town rival to start the season. I think it is good. Everyone is pumped and energetic, it is like the World Cup of Milford.”

Due to COVID-19, spectators will not be allowed to attend games.

Blake said: “It’s nice that we have the NFHS Network to broadcast the games. I know some of the area high schools have installed it as well, so even when we are playing away, our supporters will be able to catch games. I understand that it is difficult for parents not to come watch their daughters and support the program. But it is nice to give them an option where they can watch it at home.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com