Harriton girls’ soccer completes memorable campaign

Rosemont >> It has often been said that all good things must end. In this case, it was Harriton girls soccer coach Jeff Rhodes who was hoping to see Claire Coyle and Sammie Bigham have a chance to continue their high school career.
With their first PIAA District One Class AAA playoff win in the books, Rhodes knew his squad, seeded 13th would have a daunting task against 4th seeded SpringFord if they wanted to move one step closer to PIAA State playoffs and a berth in the district semi-finals.
Unfortunately for Harriton, SpringFord proved to be too much as the hosts registered a 2-0 win at Coach McNelly Stadium on Oct. 29. The 2015 campaign may be over but it’s certainly one that will not soon be forgotten.
Starting the season 0-4, it appeared as though the Rams would muddle through another season and play out the string. Not so fast. Senior co-captains Sammie Bigham and Claire Coyle had other ideas.
Hoping to return to the post-season for the first time since their freshman year, Coyle and Bigham raised to the occasion displaying senior leadership needed for a relatively young squad leading the Rams on a run that included the program’s first ever win over Conestoga and its first victories over Radnor and Haverford in the same season.
“The leadership Sammie and Claire displayed was clear,” said coach Jeff Rhodes. “They rallied the troops and looked at bringing the team together and having everyone work together.”
Freshman Filippa Graneld added, “They always supported us no matter what the score was. They also did a great job of making us a tight group on and off the pitch.”
The change started the first day of practice thanks to Bigham and Coyle coming in with a plan that was just fine with Rhodes.
“Pre-season started differently than past seasons,” Bigham said. “Claire and I decided the most thing was creating a family atmosphere. Claire and I focused on doing this and we definitely accomplished our goal. We came really far and picked each other up.”
Thanks to the program changing victories, the Rams went from playing out the string to playing for a home game in the post-season. With the seniors leading the way, Harriton received outstanding support from its younger players including freshmen Reilly Short and Graneld, sophomore Morgan Rees, juniors Nadine Horneck and Daniella Milani.
The memorable campaign that ended shorter than most would have hoped did not go unnoticed with six Harriton players being named All-Central. Coyle and Bigham were named first team; Rees and Graneld were named second team and Short and Milani were named honorable mention.
“This year I truly felt the team that started the season was not the same team that finished the season,” Rhodes said. “They played for each other and that was the most rewarding part.”

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