Area soccer teams begin the 2014 season with many goals
Eight Montoursville seniors return, a class that has won three HAC-I titles and two district championships, including last year’s district and HAC-I title. Two seniors that return are the duo of Carly Mill and Kirsten O’Malley who are each talented goal scorers and O’Malley is also very valuable in the midfield and on defense. The two hooked up on the only goal in its 1-0 win over Warrior Run in the district championship game last season. Goalie Marissa Folk, who was in goal for the district championship last year also returns for a very talented Montoursville team. But it did lose two stalwart defenders in Lauren Walker and Alexis Weisser.
Loyalsock loses three quality starters, including two starters on a strong defense in Ally Kennedy and Nicole Dougherty and one of the better mid fielders last year in Allie Pagana. But it returns many experienced players from a team last year that tied Class A state runner-up Southern Columbia and beat Class AA District 4 champion Montoursville.
Angie Cardillo, Courtney Brown and Lauren Raemore return and many talented freshmen from last years team that gained big game experience return.
Harley Lorson returns to Jersey Shore, last year’s league player of the year, for her senior season and will look to lead a team that has a strong group of freshmen coming up.
“This team has worked hard all summer going to a team camp and attending summer practices I had all summer after I took over,” said first-year coach Rita Alton. “They have come a long way and improved as a team. Our team motto is ‘One Team One Dream.’ I think this will be a great season and there is a lot talent here.”
A couple of key players will return for Muncy and it will gain a few that missed most of last season. Carley DeVore scored 28 goals and added eight assists last year and will continue to lead her team and Allison Edwards added six goals and six assists will also help with scoring. Katherine Ebner who started in goal half of last season with some experience under her belt. Gabrielle Linn and Kaitlyn Vandine return after missing most of last season and Estefania Rodriguez, a foreign exchange student from Venezuela will look to help her new team.
“I believe we will be competitive in our conference, as many of the players gained significant experience last year, helping give us better depth,” said Jim DeVore. “And our incoming freshmen class is pushing the returners for playing time.”
Warrior Run lost one of the best midfielders in the conference in Chloe Eisenhuth and also lost defensive stopper Laura Bastian but many key players return from last year’s district runner-up team including Olivia George, Madi Welliver, McKenna Beyer, Gabby Heiss, Rachel Grow and Erika Landis.
Landis and Heiss return to the defense and Beyer will continue in goal. The defense was the strength of Warrior Run last year and coach Jen Allen believes it will be strong again.
“We practice defending as a team,” said Allen. “As long as we continue with that philosophy, we should be pretty solid in the back.”
On the boys side, St. John Neumann loses eight players from last year’s playoff team but still has Anthony Pasnello, who was a first team all star and scored eight goals for the Knights. Goalie Andrew Roman who made 121 saves also returns as does Austin Champion. Neumann only has 12 players and has been struggling to field a team in recent years but last season it had one of its more succesful seasons in the last 10 years and even gave district runner-up Wellsboro problems in the playoffs.
South Williamsport returns nine starters from last years district qualifier but one of those starters was all-stater Dakota Rosenberg.
“We are expecting this year’s team to pick up where last year’s team left off,” said Mike Rogers. “Playing smart, disciplined, team-oriented soccer-in order to have the same success as last year and hopefully surpass that.”
Loyalsock loses eight seniors from last years 12-win team and with only three incoming freshmen, it will have to rely on everyone to contribute. Leading goal scorer Matt Hibbs returns after reaching the 50-goal mark in his career last season and will again carry the offense.
“We are looking forward to the competition that the new division will offer,” said coach Andy Zimmeman. “We are going to see some really great teams and we feel as though we will be able to compete with those teams as long as we are healthy.”
John Lee replaced long-time Montoursville head coach Rich Marriott, who retired after 20 years of leading the Warriors. It will not be an easy task for Lee as five starters graduated including first-team conference goalie Sawyer Bressler and and three other seniors were second-team all stars.
Muncy loses Gavin Wetherhold, a three year starter in goal and Joe Titman, a three year starter on defense. But a young core returns, including a large sophomore class, many of which were contributors on last years playoff team. Captains Derek Sellers, Caleb Smith and Daniel Hall all return and will lead a young but experienced team.
Lewisburg loses an all-stater and two first team all-stars to graduation from a team that won 19 games but Dan Cole returns as he missed last season due to injury. It also returns nine seniors including two-time first team all-star Max Reed and defensive stopper Anthony Ortiz. A couple of underclassmen return in sophomore Joey Bhangdia, a second team all star and leading goal scorer from a season ago with 17 goals.
Wellsboro won 17 games and was the district runner-up last season and coach John Shaffer believes with his teams experience in districts and states, that it will only make them better.
“We hope to continue our success from last year,” said Shaffer. “The district final and state games opened our eyes to the type of soccer we want to play and we are striving to create that level at Wellsboro.”
Wellsboro does lose a couple of key contributors in Cody DeHass and Quinten but NTL first team goalie Jake Mitchell returns.
Austin Kelsey replaces Doug Bastian as Warrior Run’s head coach but he will have a tough time replacing 11 seniors that graduated. Konnor Sidler, Derek Grose and Nick McCormack will look to pick up the slack for the departed seniors. One of those seniors was Elias George who is the ony Defender to have scored 100 career goals.
“Our main goal is to stay competitive in a very tough league,” said Kelsey. “We play the best teams in this area, and with a young and inexperienced squad, we are going to have to play well to keep ourselves in the playoff picture. Once we get into playoffs, anything can happen, but we have to get their first.”