Warwick tabs Hannaford as new girls soccer coach

By on February 24, 2016

 

Wendell Hannaford, an assistant with the Warwick girls soccer team in 2012, has been named the Lady Warriors’ new head coach, replacing Chrissy Casella. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

Wendell Hannaford, an assistant with the Warwick girls soccer team in 2012, has been named the Lady Warriors’ new head coach, replacing Chrissy Casella. (Photo by Bruce Morgan)

Wendell Hannaford describes himself as a soccer nut.

So when the Lititz resident tells you he can’t wait for high school soccer season this fall, he’s not kidding.

Especially since he will have a new undertaking when pre-season workouts get underway in August.

Hannaford was hired last Tuesday, Feb. 16 as the new girls soccer coach at Warwick, replacing Chrissy Casella, who resigned following the 2015 campaign.

“I’m excited to get going,” said the 29-year-old Hannaford, a Reading City police officer. “The team has such a rich history, and that alone, it makes the transition easy.”

This won’t be Hannaford’s first experience with the Warwick girls program. In 2012, he was an assistant coach under Mike Logan for the Lady Warriors.

Having the opportunity to work with Logan was one that Hannaford looks back on with gratefulness.

“Mike is a legend over there. He accomplished multiple things with that program over the years,” Hannaford said. “… It provides me a solid foundation, a solid basis to build from where I don’t have to come in and reinvent the wheel. When you get an opportunity to work with somebody that has many years of experience and see all the situations you could face as a coach, how he dealt with it, how he got his players to want to play for him and want to work hard, those are all tools that are just invaluable when it really comes down to doing the best job you can as a coach.”

Working hard was something that Hannaford did as a player at Albright College, where he still holds the record for most shutouts (9) and career goals against average. He was named Commonwealth Conference Goalkeeper of the Week twice, and earned Second-Team All-Conference honors in 2007 while leading the Lions to their first playoff appearance in more than 25 years.

A native of Long Island, N.Y., he later became an assistant coach for both the men’s and women’s programs at Albright. And over the past five seasons, he’s been a coach of U15-U18 girls soccer teams at Penn Legacy.

In that role, Hannaford has coached several Warwick players and seen them play high school games, so he knows the hard-working attributes that they bring to the field.

“Coach Casella did a very good job with the team,” he said. “She instilled that work ethic, that desire to want to work, and one of the things I’ve heard from a variety of coaches throughout the area is that the team doesn’t give up. You had a team that maybe the results didn’t go the right way. Sometimes that’s soccer. You can dominate a game and you still come out losing 1-0. It’s a beautiful game, but sometimes it can be a cruel game. If you have a team that has that work ethic drilled in and them embrace that and they use that as much as I’ve been told, that’s 80 percent of the puzzle.”

Hannaford inherits a squad that graduates seven players, four of whom — Sam Machin, Kate Martin, Lauren Snader and Sam Springer — were four-year varsity players.

But the cupboard is not bare.

The Lady Warriors bring back a solid nucleus of underclassmen, including junior First-Team All-Star Rene Ross, who led the 2015 squad with eight goals. Junior goalie Taylor Gonzales earned Second-Team accolades in Section One.

“The team embodies what the community is all about,” Hannaford said. “They’re a hard-working team and it’s a good group.”

Together, they will work toward returning to the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2012.

“That is definitely the goal,” Hannaford said. “They deserve it … The tools are there, the players are there, and coming into it, I don’t have to spend extra time in building that desire. These players want it. They know what they want. They want the post-season, they want that winning record, they want to show what Warwick soccer is able to do.”

Hannaford’s philosophy is to make the game fun for his players. If that happens, he believes strongly that the results will go hand-in-hand.

“One of the things I’m a big proponent of, it’s sports and sports should be fun,” Hannaford said. “If you’re not enjoying sports, the results and the performances are not going to be there.”

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