With nary a league loss in more than two years, the Bethlehem Lady Eagles have established itself as the premier girls soccer team in the Suburban Council.
How long they can keep that streak going depends on how quickly their defense gels after the graduation of three key players from last year's Section II, Class AA championship squad goaltender Kiersten Swete and defenders Allie Swiatowicz and Maddie Petraglia.
Losing those two [Swiatowicz and Petraglia] is huge because they were our bookends on the outside of our defense," said Bethlehem coach Tom Rogan.
Fortunately for the Lady Eagles, they return a significant portion of their playmakers up front including Kaitlyn Martin, Anna Gray, Kristen Link and twin sisters Kristina and Marjana Maksuti.
"We have a number of strong players returning, so we're excited about this year," said Rogan.
Martin said the offense will do everything it can to help take the pressure off the new defensive group, but added what will make Bethlehem a contender again is having both sides of the field working as a single unit.
"We definitely work together on the field a lot," said Martin. "The forwards definitely encourage the defenders, and the defenders encourage the forwards."
It's been that combination of a potent offense and a strong defense that has helped Bethlehem rise to the top of the Suburban Council ranks, which also puts the Lady Eagles on everybody's list of prime time match-ups.
"It's been two-and-a-half years since we lost a game in the Suburban Council, so I imagine we'll be circled on everyone's calendar. But that's the position we want this program to be in," said Rogan.
"I do feel this group is ready for this [challenge]," said Martin, who has not lost a game in her first two varsity seasons. "We've definitely learned a lot from our past two-to-three years. We're not focused on going unbeaten " our focus is on going to states."