He may be relatively new to this particular program, but this season’s Fenwick girls head soccer coach isn’t new to the sport or the school.

Robert Watson, also the Fenwick boys soccer coach for the past five years, takes over for Daryl Shore, who left in July to coach the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League. Watson inherits nine returning starters from a team that went 12-10-2 overall last season, falling to Morton on penalty kicks 3-2 in the Morton Regional Championship.

Those back include four seniors, three juniors and one sophomore. Mia Patrevito (defense), Mary Kate Hussey (defense), and Audrey Kiefer (forward) are the seniors back in the lineup, while juniors Audrey Galvin (midfielder), Sydney Galvez-Daley (goalkeeper), Meredith St. Clair (defense) and Kyle Kline (defense), and sophomore Molly Wallach (forward) round out the rest of the returners.

After finishing last season with a respectable 7-3 mark in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, the Friars have a shot at contending for the top spot. But standing in their way is likely going to be St. Viator, last season’s ESCC co-champ with Benet and the Class 2A State runner-up. St. Viator has the bulk of its team returning in Taylor Skala and Katelyn Hammarlund. Skala finished the regular season last year with 35 goals in 29 games, while Hammarlund netted 18 and dished out 14 assists.

Watson said he’s putting his focus on the development of his players.

“My main concern is that our players reach and surpass their potential,” he said. “If our players do that, we can beat anyone. If we fail to do that, anyone can beat us.”

Watson added that he’s been impressed with the off-season commitment of his varsity players.

“[The team from 2010] stayed together in the off-season, playing club ball, strength and conditioning training, along with engaging in indoor player-only training sessions throughout the winter, as well as cross training indoors,” he said. “We have the talent to be extremely successful, but we must focus and take care of the work.”

Two promising newcomers this season are freshmen Caroline Murphy (forward) and Momo Chapa (midfielder).

The Friars jump into the fray from the start, hosting St. Viator in their season opener at the Dominican Priory in River Forest on Thursday (4:30 p.m.). After a week off from competition, they head off to the St. Francis Classic at Schaumburg Olympic Park beginning on March 28.

Fenwick will travel up the road to cross-town rival OPRF on May 12 to close out the regular season (6:15 p.m.).