MASSENA — Thanks to a team that was unified, worked hard and had a standout like Libby Rogers to lead them on the field, the Massena girls soccer team enjoyed one of their best seasons in school history this fall.
The Red Raiders, who finished 17-1 overall, played in the largest class in Section 10 (Class A) and were the only team in the section to enter the state playoffs with a perfect record.
The team was Rogers, a senior, four-year varsity midfielder who scored 11 goals with seven assists and controlled games from her midfield position. Rogers is the Times All-North Northern Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player.
“She has a high soccer IQ and deep understanding of the game and made everyone better,” Red Raiders coach Ryan Hayes said. “She had no problem tracking back (defensively) and putting pressure on opposing midfielders and forwards. She’s super competitive. She won the ball a lot of times. She had great vision and could see plays develop ahead of when they actually occurred. She played a lot of great balls to space.
“A lot of times our outside midfielders or forwards, they had to get in position quickly because you never knew when she could play the ball. She has a lot of range. She’s able to score from distance. She scored some really nice goals, some of the nicest goals I’ve seen scored in high school soccer.”
Rogers joined the varsity as a freshman, but adapted quickly and earned the approval of the team’s older players.
“I remember struggling on whether I wanted to move up or not,” Rogers said. “I wanted to play with my friends. I ended up moving up and getting really close with the older girls. They were all really nice and helpful.”
For Hayes, it was an easy decision to bring Rogers onto the varsity as a freshman.
“I knew she would be special,” Hayes said. “She developed every year. She had a great year (as a junior), but that was cut short (by COVID-19).”
Rogers has a twin brother, Ben, who played the same position as her on the boys soccer team, and spends the winter as the goalie for the Massena boys hockey team.
Growing up playing in neighborhood games with him helped her become a standout player.
“We always had the neighbors over for games and we were always on the opposite team,” Rogers said. “He would put up a good fight.”
Ending her career with an undefeated regular season, an NAC Central Division championship and a Section 10 Class A title was a big deal for Rogers and her teammates.
Two of the biggest steps toward that were 2-0 and 1-0 wins over Gouverneur, a team that had given the Red Raiders trouble in recent years.
“I’ve been on varsity for four years and haven’t really experienced anything like being undefeated and having such a hard-working team that also wanted to try hard to be undefeated,” Rogers said. “Gouverneur has been our big, not really rival, but we haven’t won against them in a long time. We were trying to adapt to beat them.”
Former Gouverneur coach Mark Martin, who moved to the Syracuse area, played a role in Rogers’ career as she played on a summer travel team he coached.
“He shaped me as a good soccer player,” Rogers said of Martin. “Before his team I was a forward and he put me at midfield. He taught me what I should be doing in that position.”
Rogers also credits Hayes for developing other aspects of her game, saying, “He gave me a lot of advice about staying positive and clearing my head through the game. That was one of my struggles as a freshman, being hard on myself.”
Rogers is not sure where she will attend college in the fall, but she does know she won’t be playing on that school’s official women’s soccer team.
“I can see myself playing club soccer for a college,” Rogers said. “I would love to play as much as I can. I’ve been playing for a long time and have learned to like the sport. I like it a lot, but not enough to have it be my whole career.”
The Rogers file
Parents: Scott and Carrie
Siblings: Brother, Ben; Sister, Stephanie
Other: Member of National Honor Society.