DLN GIRLS SOCCER PREVIEW: Unionville’s Wilson twins hope to leave rest of league seeing stars

It doesn’t matter if it is Alex or Hayden. Opposing girls’ soccer coaches all around the Ches-Mont do not want to see either of the Wilson sisters with the ball in the attacking zone.

That’s because the duo notched a combined eight game winners during the 2019 season, leading Unionville to an 11-1 mark in the league (16-7 overall). The identical twins are four-year starters for Unionville, and longtime head coach Joe Ratasiewicz loves what he sees even though he has issues correctly identifying one Wilson from the other.

“I still can’t tell them apart,” he said. “It is kind of a running joke at our practice sessions that some players have to correct me when I call out the wrong Wilson.

“And I’m not alone. Our other coaches have the same problem identifying them. Not only do they look identical, their style of play is a mirror image of each other and they’ve been all league players for three years running.”

Along with fellow senior forward Sara Darlington, Unionville has compiled a stellar 35-2 mark against league opponents since 2016. She scored a dozen goals and added 10 assists a year ago and is a two-time all-league selection.

A forward, Alex Wilson led the team in ’19 with 14 goals and is the reigning Ches-Mont American MVP. Hayden is a midfielder and added nine goals and 11 assists.

The three are tri-captains, but Unionville also has additional key returnees like Alley Foote, Jackie Hug, Hanna Firment and Julia Capparella.

Chester County’s premier squad, however, could be Conestoga once again. The Pioneers went 21-4 last season and advanced to the PIAA 4A State Title Game. Experienced midfielders Kristi Dirico, Sophie Koziol, Annabell Schwartz and Lily Weiss are the heart and soul of the squad, along with defender Reese Henderson and goaltender Caroline Klaiber. These six seniors have already captured three straight Central League titles and a District 1 crown. Offensive stars Caitlin Donovan and McKenzie Coleman have graduated, so ’Stoga will likely be more of a defensive-oriented squad.

Great Valley was also good a year ago (14-4 record) and will likely be in the mix for the Ches Mont crown because of returnees like Libby Cogan, Rose Bleahan and Gillian Yonce. The Patriots are also bolstered by the addition of Maggie Peterson and Kaitlin Caban, a pair of juniors who played academy soccer a year ago. Cogan was the team’s top scorer in 2019, Bleahen is one of the county’s top midfielders and Yonce is a versatile presence on defense. And head coach Jen Michewicz is back after taking last season off while on maternity leave.

First-year head coach Jason Luzak expects to have Downingtown East back in the thick of the Ches-Mont race. The Cougars were 14-3-1 in 2019 and graduated a dozen seniors. But East has a senior standout in all four levels: Caroline McDonald at forward, Bridget Riley at midfield, Hannah Moses on defense, and Natalie Sims in goal. Another senior, Danielle Wilson, is recovering from knee surgery and may not be ready to contribute until later in the season.

Head coach Ashley Ainsworth switched from Kennett to West Chester Rustin in the offseason. She inherits a squad that went 8-10-1 a year ago. Seniors Emma Pelkowski (attacking midfielder) and Jama Keefer (defensive midfielder) headline the strength in the middle of the field. Junior Mia Amen is the top returning forward and junior Maegen Quinn anchors the defense. “I am extremely excited to watch them play as they have truly come together as a team amidst adversity and challenges that have arisen from the pandemic,” Ainsworth said.

At 9-8-1 a year ago, West Chester Henderson is hoping to move into the upper echelon of the Ches-Mont under first-year head coach Craig Scangarella. Seniors Mary King and Julia Bixler are all-league returnees, and along with sophomore Rebecca Miller, the three make up a solid group in the midfield. Goaltender Bella Collier (Jr.) and forward Olivia Bradley (So.) are also back. “This group has a strong technical and tactical foundation to build from heading into an always difficult league,” Scangarella said.

Bishop Shanahan missed the district playoffs by a fraction of a point last season with an 8-9 overall mark and lost three forwards to graduation. But head coach Ken Schmidt’s Eagles have a particularly strong junior class, led by two-sport standout Elle Udo. Despite limited soccer experience, she’s become one of the league’s top defenders, and is a Division I prospect in lacrosse. Emily Longenderfer and Sophia Lymberis are returning starters, and promising new players Mariela Ramos and Maddie Blair have emerged. All are juniors.

At Downingtown West, head coach Katelyn Phillips has one of the area’s best midfielders in junior Maddie Greco, who was a first-team All-Ches-Mont pick in ’19. Ava Rightmire is only a sophomore, but is the Whippets’ top defender. Senior midfielder Jess Harpel and junior forward Morgan Jones also return. “We have a lot of young players joining us, so it will be great to see what we can do,” Phillips said. “We are thankful to be able to have a season, even if it is a mini-season.”

Coatesville was 2-14 in 2019 and is breaking in a new head coach in Patrick Kinzeler. The team’s top performer, Lauren Hatt, is also the Raiders’ lone senior. She missed last season while committed to a Development Academy team and has signed on to play college soccer at St. Josephs. Juniors Aillison Ringsdorf and Kayla Kinzeler are back in the midfield, along with defender Claudia Vara and goalie Sophia Long.

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