All Area COTY Mueller has W.C. East going in right direction

The West Chester East girls soccer program had been going through coaches at rate that was comiserate upon the results they were bringing. Despite having talented teams, they were not reaching the heights that fans and observers were expecting.

Come the 2014 season, however, a couple of major dragons were slayed with a new Viking chief giving the marching orders — Shannon Mueller. East stayed in the thick of the Ches-Mont League National Division race and defeated Downingtown East in the first round of the District 1 Class AAA playoffs. Though, they in the next round, there is a huge air of optimism surrounding the team now.

Coming off her successful first season, Mueller has been named the Daily Local News All-Area Girls Soccer Coach of the Year.

With players like Hannah Specht, Hailey Stein and Haykey Eshleman returning, talent was once again not a problem and an enticing carrort for Mueller.

“The talent they had there was appealing,’ said Mueller. “I knew some of the girls from a club standpoint and it was a good selling point. I knew it was a good opportunity.’

Having a chance to clean the air, Mueller said her consistency in dealing with the players were key.

“I have a high expectation,’ she said. “But they know that what I tell is going to be consistent, it’s not going to change.’

Having played in the back in college and professionally, Mueller leans to building play up from the back and set up directing her team so.

“Being a defensive player, I like to play from the back, having my goalie and defense work the ball out from the back,’ said Mueller.

One speedbump was hit when starting goalie Missy MacPherson was lost due to injury. Senior Sophie Paolizzi stepped in and helped stabilize the position.

Things didn’t click right away, a loss to Downingtown West and a tie to Oxford left the Vikings relling a little bit. But things kicked in and they went in on a five-game winning streak.

“We said to ourselves, ‘ we can do this,” said Mueller.

During the win streak, Mueller felt the light switch go on.

“Sometimes, a group of girls are not always on the same page,’ she said. “But, collectively, the girls were playing for each other. The practices changes, they were more intense, more focused.’

While the wins over the Cougars were certainly a high point, Mueller also pointed out to a game earlier that week that got the ball rolling.

“It was a huge week,’ she said. “Our senior night against Garnet Valley was a highlight, and then the win against Downingtown East. I was the most nervous for that game, but it was a great week.’

Mueller, then Shannon Gleason, was a standout at Hempfield High School before going to Rutgers University for a season. She transferred to West Chester and became a star there, becoming the school’sfirst women’s soccer All-American. She then played more than three seasons in Germany in the women’s second division Bundesliga, where she met her husband.

They settled in the area, working on the club soccer level.

With a beefed up nonleague schedule and returning All-Ches-Mont members Shannon Moore and Shannon Newell heading the list of returners, the Vikings are not expected to take a big step back next year.

“I can’t wait for next year,’ said Mueller.

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