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Mercury-Area 2016 Girls Soccer Previews

Pioneer Athletic Conference

Boyertown

Head coach: Bill Goddard, 15th season

Last year’s record: 11-1-1 PAC, 16-2-1 overall, PAC champion

Players to watch: Seniors Lauren Haley, fwd.; Erin Reitmyer, def.; Ashley Petitjean, GK. Juniors Kaleigh Gallagher, fwd.; Hanah Mutter, mid.; Corinne Renninger, mid.

Outlook: It’s almost strange to see a Boyertown ‘players to watch list’ without Sarafina Valenti and Maria Garofolo. Both four-year starters and All-Area Team fixtures, Valenti has taken her goalkeeping talents to Penn State and Garofolo is off to Drexel. The Bears are missing two of their foundational pieces over the past four years, yet Bill Goddard’s squad always finds a way to stay in the league conversation. Boyertown is known for its defensive identity with senior goalkeeper Ashley Petitjean now ready to shine. “Ashley has been Sarafina’s understudy and she could’ve started on any other team in the league,” Goddard said. “This is Ashley’s turn; she paid her dues.” The Bears also have promising attacking talent in Lauren Haley and Kaleigh Gallagher. The expectations won’t be quite as high this season as last, but Boyertown has done some of its best work when placed in the underdog role, making it impossible to rule out a PAC championship and District 1 playoff run.

 

Methacton

Head coach: Bret Smith, 14th season

Last year’s record: 4-9 PAC, 4-12-2 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Abbey Dungan, def.; Lea Dungan, mid.; Kyra Hardenburg, fwd.; Angela Ramsden, mid.; Maddie Taylor, def.; Kelly Hallman, mid.; Liz Stender, GK. Juniors Lee Eubank, def.; Lexi Laconi, mid.; Caitlyn McClure, mid.; Mariah Romano, def. Sophomores Maggie Bordonaro, mid.; Liz Greene, GK; Lauren McNichol, mid.; Kendall Ozorowski, fwd. Freshman Juliana Keenan, def.

Outlook: There will be no claims of inexperience at Methacton this season. That can’t be the case when a team has 10 returning starters. Coach Bret Smith hopes the continuity carries his team. “One word: chemistry,” Smith said when asked what will allow his team to reach its potential. “We had a fairly young team last year, and it took the players a while to all get on the same page. If we can start the season as a more cohesive unit, we should be a much improved team.” Smith isn’t bashful about the team’s goals either: “Qualifying for the District 1 playoffs! We haven’t qualified since 2012, our longest drought ever.” A good start and staying healthy will go a long way toward Methacton reaching its aspirations.

 

Norristown

Head coach: Lisa Noce

Last year’s record: 0-14 SOL American, 1-15 overall

Players to watch: Sophomores Ashley Schools, fwd.; Emily Schools, fwd.

Outlook: Norristown knows a challenging road lies ahead. The Eagles fall into the Liberty Division in its move to the Pioneer Athletic Conference to be pitted against annual state playoff hopefuls like Spring-Ford, Boyertown and Owen J. Roberts. The fledgling Eagles will rely on a number of underclassmen as they try to make the most of the season by simply showing progress. “I foresee some improvement this year and our goal is to grow as a team and see more movement on the field,” coach Lisa Noce said. “This year we’ll be able to move up our sophomore twins Ashley and Emily Schools to hopefully drive the offensive attack and hopefully we’ll close our goal differential and get some wins.”

 

Owen J. Roberts

Head coach: Joe Margusity, 21st season

Last year’s record: 9-4 PAC, 15-7 overall, District 1 fifth-place game

Players to watch: Juniors Mahogany Willis, fwd.; Caroline Thompson, mid.; Kylie Cahill, def.; Kali Pupo, def.; Kenzie Milne, def.

Outlook: Owen J. Roberts’ Class of 2018 is no stranger to varsity soccer. It’s core has been starting since they were freshmen. With two winning seasons and two deep runs in the district playoffs, the Wildcats have been up to the challenge. Now, they’re upperclassmen with the expectations to match. OJR featured a dynamic front 3 last season with Mahogany Willis (21 goals, 5 assists), PAC top scorer Emilie Kupsov (27 goals, 16 assists) and Morgan Shronk. But only Willis returns this season with Kupsov graduated and Shronk opting to focus on track and field. The Wildcats will look to fortify the Kylie Cahill-led defense with the goals likely not as plentiful. Coach Joe Margusity, who is 13 wins from 350 for his career, praised his team’s speed and technical ability and believes the rosters’ depth will keep the Cats’ fresh. With an eye on getting back to the PAC Final Four and making the PIAA tournament, defending will be the key. “We need to be stingier about giving up goals. Team defending must be a priority,” Margusity said.

Phoenixville

Head coach: Tim Raub, 4th season
Last year’s record: 9-4 PAC, 12-7 overall; PAC Frontier Division champion, District 1-AAA qualifier
Players to watch: Seniors Kaitlyn Casiano, mid.; Julia Brown, mid.; Sophia Kopko, def.; Dakota Graham, mid. Sophomores Leeza Galli, mid.; Gabrielle Perrotto, fwd.
Outlook: Head coach Tim Raub seems to be trying to fly under the radar. “This will be a bit of a rebuilding phase for us, but the kids have been working hard all preseason, and the roster is full of strong character players who want to compete, which should help,” Raub said in preseason. The Phantoms appear to be in position for more than a ‘rebuilding phase’ with a number of influential returners like All-Area first team and All-Southeastern Pa. Soccer Coaches Association midfielder Kaitlyn Casiano, plus All-Area second team defender Sophia Kopko to lead the defense. Up front, Dakota Graham and sophomores Leeza Galli and Gabrielle Perrotto all proved to be capable goalscorers last season. With many positions in good hands, the Phantoms look like a team very capable to remaining atop the PAC Frontier Division. And placed in the new Class AAA of District 1, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think Phoenixville can make some waves on the district stage in 2016.

Pope John Paul II

Head coach: Stewart Sherk, 3rd season

Last year’s record: 9-4 PAC, 10-7 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Julia Moroz, mid.; Kendal Piazza, def. Juniors Kayla Mesaros, fwd.; Carson Tracy, mid.; Julia Owens, mid.; Elizabeth Kropp, mid.; Casey Genovese, mid.; Colleen Morton, GK.

Outlook: The Golden Panthers have earned a place in PAC Final Four in each of Stewart Sherk’s season at the helm. The trend looks to be in good shape with a quality core of returners, including top scorer Kayla Mesaros and goalkeeper Colleen Morton, both juniors. PJP should be back contending in the Frontier Division and for a place in the District 1-AAA playoffs despite moving up from AA. That’s right in line with the team’s goals. “They have set some obtainable goals for the season: to compete for the Frontier Division title, PAC Final Four and district playoffs,” coach Stewart Sherk said. “In order to reach our goals we will need to be detailed-oriented, stay mentally tough and physically healthy along with bringing our best effort to every game.”

 

Pottsgrove

Head coach: Steve Mellor, 6th season

Last year’s record: 2-11 PAC, 4-14 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Madison Thierry, mid./def.; Dalia Abbas, mid./fwd.; Cori Dickinson, mid./def.; Erin Carroll, GK.

Outlook: The Falcons’ spine is fine with returning PAC first team selections Dalia Abbas (16 goals, 7 assists) and Madison Thierry (7 goals, 7 assists, Slippery Rock recruit) back to occupy the middle for Pottsgrove. Coach Steve Mellor is looking for leadership and elevated play from his seniors to bring along the rest of the group. With a foundation in place, Pottsgrove looks to be more competitive in the Frontier and has set goals of a .500 record and top 2 finish in the division. So far, so good with the Falcons off to a 4-0 start.

 

Pottstown

Head coach: Gary Mock, 8th season

Last year’s record: 0-13 PAC, 0-18 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Sara Levengood, mid.; Racheal Levengood, fwd. Junior Denasia Greenwalt, fwd.

Outlook: Gary Mock knows plenty about putting others first. It’s what has kept him at the helm at Pottstown for eight seasons despite many seasons with few, if any, wins. Mock is working on cohesiveness ahead of another challenging season. “We’re taking a fresh start with team bonding focusing on ‘We B4 Me,’” Mock said. Pottstown’s pursuit is all about improvement. “We have the same goals every year: improve every day and compete until the last whistle. If everything goes well we are hoping to get our first PAC win,” Mock said. “Win or lose we will learn something about ourselves!”

 

Spring-Ford

Head coach: Tim Leyland, 3rd season

Last year’s record: 11-0-2 PAC, 18-6-2 overall, District 1 fifth-place, PIAA quarterfinals

Players to watch: Seniors Juliana Alessandroni, def.; Libby Andrews, def.; Missy Moore, def. Juniors Laura Fazzini, mid; Kelly Franz, fwd.; Alayna Gairo, fwd.; Gabby Kane, mid.; Molly McHarg, mid.; KK O’Donnell, def. Sophomore Claire Sites, def.

Outlook: Spring-Ford’s task this season is to replace the irreplaceable. The Rams’ inaugural golden era of three straight trips to the PIAA Championships concluded at last season’s end with the graduation of Mercury All-Area Player of the Year Laura Suero (Penn State) and first teamers Taylor Newhart (La Salle) and Gabrielle Vagnozzi (St. Joseph’s). While that trio garnered the most attention, the Rams return more than a few who have played many minutes on the big stage, including All-Area first teamer Missy Moore, Gabby Kane and Libby Andrews. “As a program we have had recent success and for the 2016 team to reach its highest potential we cannot assume our past will reflect upon the present,” coach Tim Leyland said. “We need to be fully prepared for all of our opponents, stay healthy and improve each and every day of the season.” The Rams may not be the prohibitive favorite in the PAC as they were last season, but they still have the look of a contender for the league’s hardware.

 

Upper Merion

Head coach: Jeff Kushner, 1st season

Last year’s record: 2-9-3 SOL American, 2-12-3 overall

Outlook: Upper Merion was always going to be an unknown commodity upon entering the Pioneer Athletic Conference. The Vikings are even an unknown commodity to their coach. Jeff Kushner stepped into the UM job just a few weeks ago and is still learning about his squad that will play in the PAC Frontier Division. With so many questions, it’s hard to envision the Vikings pushing for a PAC playoff spot, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the season. “In meeting with the seniors when I took over the position a few weeks ago, there was a general sense of misery among the girls regarding the game,” Kusher said. “Our goal is to have more fun than last year.”

 

Upper Perkiomen

Head coach: Mike Freed, 8th season (26th overall)

Last year’s record: 5-8 PAC, 7-11 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Mackenzie Gebhardt, mid.; Megan Wismer, def.; Rachel Morelli, GK; Teresa Swartley, def.; Lauren Weeks, def. Juniors Kayleigh Durning, mid.; Jessie Fisher, mid.; Taylor Kearney, mid.; Hannah Leight, fwd.

Outlook: Continuity is key for Upper Perkiomen this season with nine returning letterwinners, including All-Area first team midfielder Mackenzie Gebhardt (Bloomsburg commit). According to coach Mike Freed, “the Tribe definitely has some experience to build on. That experience is spread throughout the field, so hopefully the lessons learned in previous seasons will pay dividends for the team.” Freed hopes to see the team tighten up defensively and keep his first team healthy with the roster sitting on 31 years, the lowest total in Freed’s Upper Perk tenure. Nevertheless, the Indians can be expected to improve on last year’s record and push for a place in the District 1-AAA and PAC playoffs out of the Frontier Division.

Others

Daniel Boone

Head coach: Tory Bilger, 1st season

Last year’s record: 8-0-2 Berks I, 17-3-2 overall, District 3-AAA champion, PIAA Class AAA first round

Players to watch: Seniors Makenzie Witzel, GK; Miranda Majewski, def.; Gianna Walker, def.; Julia Bookwalter, mid.; Marissa Stevenson, def.; Megan Breidigan, fwd. Junior Madison Spitko, fwd.

Outlook: The impossible dream happened. Now the Blazers get to try to follow it up. After a stunning run to the District 3-AAA championship and first PIAA berth in school history, much has changed for Daniel Boone girls soccer. Coach John Pantone went out on top, making way for new coach Tory Bilger. Also gone are stars Alayna Roesener (Stevenson) and Kayleigh Kardos (Liberty). Yet the Blazers return All-Berks I goalkeeper Makenzie Witzel and All-Berks I center back Miranda Majewski, among others with valuable big-game experience. Boone will hope those factors can carry them as it finds its way in trying to remain as a contender in Berks I.

 

The Hill School

Head coach: Laura Wann, first season

Last year’s record: 4-11 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Cayla Davis, mid.; Lexington Lemmon, mid./GK. Junior Bri Tyson, mid.

Outlook: New head coach Laura Wann enters after serving as an assistant at her alma mater, Williams College, which reached the NCAA Division III national final in her two seasons, winning the title in 2015. She’ll bring that pedigree in her pursuit of rebuilding the Hill girls’ program. A goalkeeper in her playing career, Wann is looking to build a defensive identity. “Our senior leadership and overall team dynamics are going to be a huge assets for us this year, both on and off the field. On the field, our goalkeeping and defensive personnel will be positions of strengths this season,” she said. It will be worth watching how Wann’s approach takes shape with the Blues. “We have focused a lot on defensive organization and new attacking patterns,” she said. “To reach our highest potential, this team must be disciplined defensively and work creatively within our attacking system to create dangerous opportunities in front of goal.”

 

Perkiomen School

Head coach: Justine Segear, 7th season

Last year’s record: 4-9 overall

Players to watch: Seniors Hannah Chiesa, mid.; Helana Tang, def. Sophomore Marina Fitzner, mid. Freshman Sasha Vassallo, mid.

Outlook: Perkiomen School coach Justine Segear wants her team to be on the ball. Fortunately for her she’s added some talented newcomers to the midfield of the Panthers. “This year our team gained strength in the midfield with the addition of new players. Additionally, our goalkeeper has been working hard and steadily improving in the offseason,” Segear said. After falling short of repeating as Tri-County League champion a season ago, Perkiomen is bidding to return to that perch. “As always our team goal is to win the TCL League championship. Additionally, we want to improve our possession and work to play good soccer,” Segear said.

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