High School Girls Soccer: Area teams replacing stars
One goal was all that separated Southern Columbia from Greensburg Central Catholic and a state title last season, but it was enough. Greensburg took home the PIAA Class A state championship, while the Tigers had to settle for runnerup.
This year, it will be difficult for any area team to make it as far as Southern Columbia did last season, including the Tigers.
Southern Columbia has a nice mix of players, although ones who took backseats to last year's stars.
Most teams in the area fall under the same category as Southern Columbia - losing core players, but still with talent to compete.
Mount Carmel lost Ali Varano, Lourdes lost Rachel Schultz and Line Mountain said good-bye to Kylee Heintzelman.
But each of the area teams believe things can fall in place for a successful 2014 season.
A number of impact seniors graduated at Southern Columbia, but there's still enough returning talent to expect a strong season.
Midfielder Haley Levan, who scored 11 goals last season, is back, as is fellow midfielder Aly Stavinski, who had five goals.
But that's it for returning starters. Forward Mackenzie Haladay also had five goals last year, and will be returning, but was not a starter.
Haladay will play a crucial part in the forward position that lost two players to graduation. Haladay and sophomore Christina Popdora will be counted on to supply the offense from up top.
Head coach Derek Stine said Podpdora is a potential breakout player.
A position to watch for Southern Columbia will be goalkeeper. Heartland Conference First Team goalkeeper Jess Watkins has graduated and there are three keepers listed on the roster, but the starting job has not been decided yet.
"It's going to be a difficult transition, with not having Watkins in net," assistant coach Jen Stine said. "It will take a game or two to get comfortable."
There are five seniors and 11 upperclassmen on the Southern Columbia roster, but the real issue is the amount of playing time those players have had.
Jen Stine said five freshmen will have starting spots - two on defense, two in the midfield and one at forward.
With an influx of freshmen on the roster, and an older group that hasn't seen a lot of game experience in the past, it will be a fresh and unseasoned group for the Tigers, but the coaching staff isn't worried.
"We had a couple players last year that could have been starters, but with having so many seniors, they weren't able to break into the lineup," Jen Stine said.
Mount Carmel lost maybe the most important single player in the area in Ali Varano, The News-Item's 2013-14 Athlete of the Year in basketball and track, and the 2012 Athlete of the Year in soccer. This season, the Red Tornadoes will turn to a younger lineup with only four upperclassmen on the roster. Most of the positions on the lineup are still up for grabs.
"There's a lot of competition right now," head coach Rich Miller said. "That will continue into the season, but things will get figured out."
One of those positions in competition is goalkeeper, where sophomores Amanda Arrellano and Sami Zigarski are battling it out for the starting spot.
But the most important part for Mount Carmel is replacing the lost offense. That could come down to senior forward Jennifer Bolick, the only upperclassman at that position. From there, it will be sophomores or freshmen that will supply the offense up top.
Shamokin is the team that doesn't fit the pattern in the area - the Indians are returning all but one player this season.
Besides experience, coach Matt Witmer will have a full roster for the first time in a while.
"We're able to play a lot harder and not get down on ourselves," Witmer said. "We had to play a player down a few times last season."
Even though the returning roster for Shamokin is practically full, it's one that won only five games last season. But Witmer is confident the team can turn the corner with the experience and added depth.
On the starting roster are six upperclassmen spread throughout the three lines, including a forward attack that features three seniors.
Shamokin has new-founded depth and experience, but Witmer is expecting something else new this season.
"The players are hungry to get into the playoffs for the first time since we joined the Heartland Conference," Witmer said.
Coach Thad Swinehart's first season at Line Mountain went better than the 2012 season. The team won four more games, with six total, and the coach is expecting a mid-standings finish for the 2014 year.
Last season, the Eagles finished fifth of seven teams in the Tri-Valley League, but four of the six wins came in league play. Swinehart is expecting a slight improvement on that league finish.
The team lost six of its players to graduation, but senior Corina Finlan is returning as goalkeeper, and Jayci London is a capable back-up, so there's experience and skill in net.
Replacing 2013 Tri-Valley League second-team defender Kylee Heintzelman will be crucial to Line Mountain's success.
Deidre Long, who has led the Eagles in scoring in previous years, is a player to watch.
Gone are double-digit goal scorers Rachel Schultz and Kelsey Williams, at Lourdes. Baily Trell, who had six goals and 10 assists, is back though.
Junior goalkeeper Brittany Lahr is also back, even if the 2013 season wasn't the kindest to her. Lahr gave up 77 goals in league play, third most in the league, but does keep stability in net.
Lahr and the Red Raiders will need better defense, which should be a positive for Lourdes, which has two senior and two junior defenders.
Freshmen could play a big role. Coach Charlie Rebuck expects four different freshmen to see action during the season.
The senior class is a strong one for the Red Raiders, who have at least one senior placed along the three lines. Rebuck expects the seniors to provide leadership on the field.
Capsule looks at each team:
Head Coach: Thad Swinehart
Roster: Deidre Long; Corina Finlan; goalkeeper; Kourtney Heintzelman; Courtney Bonawitz; Lacey Snyder; Kailey Gaw; Kristin Erdman; Nicole Adams; Gabby Yerger; Elenor Mako; Caitlin Scott; Jayci London; Claire Witmer; Audrianna Reiner.
Outlook: A similar finish to the 2013 record should be expected for Line Mountain. A large chunk of the roster is returning, but there's not much to give an extra push for the Eagles in the tough Tri-Valley League.
Head Coach: Charlie Rebuck
Roster: Seniors - Jessica DeLong, defender; Claudia Rawa, defender; Grace Romploski, midfielder; Bailey Trell, forward. Juniors - Celine Jones, defender; Maya Khanna, defender; Kissy Komara, forward; Kendall Krebs, defender; Brittany Lahr, goalkeeper; Emily Troutman, midfielder. Sophomore - Olivia Dobson, midfielder. Freshmen - Selina Albert, forward; Zoey Bower, defender; Amanda Horan, goalkeeper; Karin Martinez, mdifielder; Jessica Mileski, forward; Nora Rompolski, forward; Audrey Wilkins, midfielder.
Outlook: Rachel Schultz may be gone, but there's plenty of skill left at other areas. Freshmen will be important, but an improvement on the 4-14 record isn't a crazy thought. However, it probably won't be a huge one.
Head Coach: Rich Miller
Roster: Seniors - Jordan Winhofer, defender; Jennifer Bolick, forward; Isabella Stellar, midfielder. Junior - Natasha Nevis, midfielder. Sophomores - Amanda Arellano, goalkeeper; Sami Zigarski, goalkeeper; Marissa Kleman, forward; Olivia Lubinski, defender; Alyssa Menko, forward; Alyssa Menko, forward; Hannah Hornung, defender; Anna Zeluskey, forward; Erin Smink, defender. Freshmen - Emilee Wasilewski, midfielder; Maci Mazzatesta, defender; Bailey Little, defender; Chloe Smith, forward; Camlin Bogutski, defender; Myia Miriello, defender; Nicole Varano, midfielder; Maura Deeter, forward.
Outlook: Mount Carmel will have a young lineup and it will probably take a few games to get things figured out. If the young players can replace the scoring, which coach Miller believes they can, then the Red Tornadoes could have another strong season.
Head Coach: Matt Witmer
Roster: Seniors - Michelle Bressi, midfielder; Devvon Gallie, defender; Elizabeth Kapushinski, midfielder; Megan Kerstetter, defender; Brianna Martin, goalkeeper; Casey Wilson, defender. Juniors - Gabriann Lahr, forward; Danielle Reed, midfielder. Sophomores - Desserae Allen; Amy Frasch, defender; Alicia Kapushinski, defender; Mackenzie Koharski, defender; Aubrey Persing; Brittany Wondoloski. Freshmen - Madison Daya; Maryssa Erdman, goalkeeper; Abbi Fiorey; Dharma Koser; Sadie Miller; Kamilyah Nazih; Ciara Tharp; Tessa Whaery.
Outlook: Shamokin has the most experience of any team in the area, and could be the team to watch in the area if it can put everything together. Past seasons haven't been strong, so things will definitely need to improve if the Indians want to make the playoffs.
Head Coach: Derek Stine
Roster: Seniors - Lauren Yeick, defender; Kayla Spotts, forward; Samantha Schultz, defender; Alyssa Stavinski, midfield; Vanessa Thomas, defender. Juniors - Molly Shoup, midfield; Mackenzie Haladay, forward; Jess Adamski, defender; Blair Johnston, defender; Gabby Delbo, defender; Kayla Broscious, midfield; Hannah Sage, defender; Stephanie Haupt, goalkeeper; Haley Levan, midfield. Sophomores - Christina Popdora, forward; Brianna Snyder, defender; Alexis Burd, midfield; Tricia Shufeldt, midfield; Brooke Sudol, forward; Julia Moyle, goalkeeper; Raevin Rosenbaum, midfield; Kyla Madara, midfield; Samanatha Jankowski, midfield. Freshmen - Abby Hager, forward; Veronica Polyniak, midfield; Madison Klock, midfield; Anna Manley, forward; Natalie Hunter, defender; Cassi Bennage, forward; Kristin Kremser, midfield; Hailey Reeder, goalkeeper; Marley Roadarmel, defender; Lauren Mudrock, midfield; Paige Sharrow, defender.
Outlook: It's definitely going to be hard for any type of repeat on the success the Tigers had last season, but the team should still be skilled. The coaching staff believes in the players that were reserves last season, although they'll have to replace players in every area of the field.