During her four-year tenure coaching the Weston High (Conn.) girls’ soccer team, Joanna Hallac had to be creative.
“We were a smaller school in a good league but we were able to do well,” said Hallac. “We had to do more with less.”
As Hallac replaces Ken Stevenson as the head coach of the Hun School girls’ soccer program, she is bringing that open-minded mentality.
“In terms of a system, I like to see the personnel and what works best,” said Hallac, who will also be teaching upper school history at Hun as she returns to education after a three-year hiatus that saw her earn a masters degrees in legislative affairs from George Washington.
“I am flexible in my approach. I thing we are going to start with 3-5-2 but we could change.”
Hallac’s approach also includes a heavy emphasis on character. “I am really big on sportsmanship,” said Hallac, who played college soccer at Lafayette.
“I also see this as a chance for the players to learn life lessons as well as soccer lessons. They learn the benefits of working hard and working together and that can help them through their life.”
The Hun players have been working hard for Hallac in preseason training. “I think they have been great; I am teaching them new things and challenging them in soccer and conditioning,” said Hallac, crediting team captains Olivia Breander-Carr, Jess Sacco, and Ashley Maziarz with easing her transition.
“They have really been positive: I couldn’t be happier. The commitment is there. They have all bought in; they have put the work in. We have a good core of talent.”
Hallac believes she has some fine talent she can deploy on the offensive end of the field.
“I have Abby Gray at forward; she has shown promise,” said Hallac.
“She scored the winning goal in our scrimmage with WW/P-S. Palomo Rodney is a sophomore. She has improved by all accounts. She is a defender by trade. She worked hard this summer and I have been trying to get her to play up front. I would also like to play Olivia up front at times. I have a lot of players who can be options.”
The Raiders also boast some good options in the midfield as they look to improve on the 4-5-4 record posted in 2012. “Jess Johnson is unbelievable on defense but has skills and I would like to get her into the midfield. Ashley Maziarz is good on the corner kicks; she is great in the air. Jess Sacco is a threat in the midfield; I have a lot of players who can be options.”
As for the defense, Hallac is going with a mix of experience and youth.
“I have Olivia, Ashley and a freshman, Julia Salerno, on defense,” said Hallac. “Jess Johnson is alternating between defense and midfield.”
Sophomore Courtney Arch will be taking over at goalie. “Courtney is working hard and has been playing well,” said Hallac.
“She has the ability to make big saves. We are working on communication and concentration. We need her to stay focused for the full 80 minutes. We want to get her to be confident so she is 100 percent there. She has been really good and the girls are comfortable with her back there.”
With Hun opening the 2013 season by hosting East Brunswick High on September 12, Hallac is looking for her players to show an intense focus.
“I am making sure that everybody is working together for the full 80 minutes, offensively and defensively,” said Hallac.
“If someone takes a minute off, offensively or defensively, that is when the other team could score. We need to take advantage of the mistakes made by the other teams. We need to capitalize on opportunities. We don’t have a natural goal scorer so we are going to have to work hard to score goals.”