Lower Merion >> The Harriton girls’ soccer team was definitely Ram-tested and Ram-tough throughout its 2018 campaign.
Despite losing two key players against Unionville in the first round of the PIAA District One Class AAAA playoffs, the 24th seeded Rams stuck together to upset the ninth-seeded Indians.
Taking the field shorthanded against eventual district finalist Souderton in a second- round District One playoff contest Oct. 25, the Rams gave the host Indians everything they could handle before falling 1-0 on a Souderton goal midway through the second half.
he match marked the end to a successful season along with the high school careers of seniors Sophia Edelblut, Katie Grogan, Sydney Kobak, Gabriela Mazzoni, Allison Schwab, Reilly Short and Emily Stewart.
“My time playing for Harriton has meant a lot,” said Grogan. “I played travel soccer since I was young and playing high school is so much different. Playing with these girls has been amazing. We have really grown and I am definitely going to miss it.”
Freshman Camilla Trotti added, “The seniors have taught me so much pushing me to play better.”
The outcome against Souderton could have been worse if not for sophomore keeper Lexy Calhoun, who made three point-blank saves throughout the evening.
The Rams girls’ soccer team had been stuck in neutral for many years until Harriton’s outgoing senior class changed the face of the program the past four years, going 2-1-1 against Lower Merion, appearing in the district playoffs four consecutive years (winning the first-round game their freshman and senior years).
“It has certainly been quite a journey,” said Short, a Wesleyan University recruit for soccer. “We have been an underdog a lot and kind of took that mentality and ran with it. While the district tournament appearances and wins have been nice, the wins over Lower Merion have been huge for this program.”
“This senior class will go down as the best overall class in our program’s history,” said Harriton head coach Jeff Rhodes. “It was been a pleasure to watch them grow as players and young adults over the years.”
Certainly, the players are a big reason for the turnaround of the program, but another key has been the stability of the coaching staff and their ability to get the players to buy into their philosophy.
“Coach (Rhodes) has helped the program,” said Short. “He motivates us and we have fun. He creates an environment where we learn and have fun. It’s fun to go to practice every day. It’s a great environment he’s created.”
With the district playoff hopes looking bleak, Rhodes had his team go back to basics and focus on one game at a time. With that philosophy, the Rams picked some key wins that allowed Harriton to earn the 24th and final seed for the district playoffs, setting the table for what would happen over the final week of the season.
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