Sock motivated by early exit from states

After appearing in the Class A state championship game in 2015, Loyalsock had high expectations of returning in 2016 and perhaps winning the school’s second girls soccer state championship.

But that hope came to an end in just the first round of the state tournament, shy of where the team was expecting to get. Likely, that loss has been on the minds of some of Loyalsock’s returners since that day.

And that motivation may be a good thing as 2017 starts.

“In a way, I think the team will use it as motivation. We know that we lost that game, we don’t blame anyone other than ourselves. It’s not something we are dwelling on, but we certainly haven’t forgotten about it,” Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort said. “The returning players learned a tough lesson, but they handled it well and will hopefully use that experience as a reminder to not make the same mistakes again. We try to find things to improve on not only after losses, but also when we win. There have been times we played poorly and still won games and played very well and lost games. There are always things we can become better at and the team buys into that philosophy.”

The Lancers ended 2016 with consecutive losses, losing the District 4 Class AA championship to Montoursville before falling to Lake-Lehman in the first round of states.

The Lancers did lose a handful of players, notably the speedy Myriah Saar up top, but return numerous talented starters. One who is back is Rhiallie Jessell, who recorded her 50th career goal last season. Without Saar, Jessell will be the focal point for defenses to key on, but then again, that’s nothing Jessell isn’t already used to.

“She’s quite used to having two, sometimes three defenders around her. I don’t think teams focusing on her really phases her. In fact, she probably welcomes the challenge,” Comfort said. “Rhiallie is smart enough to know that if she is drawing in multiple defenders that one of her teammates will be open. And getting the ball to her teammates is definitely on of Rhiallie’s strengths.”

Loyalsock also has senior goalie Grace Schreckengast coming back, one of the top returning area goalies.

“Every season she has improved and continues to do so. She’s gotten a lot more comfortable in communicating with her back line and utilizes her feet to help keep and build our possession,” Comfort said. “She’s very accurate when distributing the ball out of the back and has been making very good decisions when doing so.”

Elsewhere in the HAC-III, Warrior Run lost one of the district’s top defensive players in Gabby Heiss and the state’s all-time girls shutout leader Madi Welliver, who is playing at Lycoming.

And that senior class from Warrior Run left behind big shoes to fill after winning three consecutive district championships.

“We will certainly miss the graduating players and their leadership and we are looking forward to watching some of them play college soccer,” head coach Jen Allen said. “We have great leadership in the senior class this fall and the girls are excited about starting the season.”

As in years past, the Defenders will be able to rebuild and stay successful with various younger players stepping up and contributing.

“We have a great returning group of players and a good-sized freshman class,” Allen said.

Among those returning players who saw time last season are Emma Burrows, Megan Zimmerman, Latricia Yocum, Madie Majcher, Jane James and Kierra Trivelpiece.

The Defenders pride themselves on extremely solid defense and, according to Allen, that’s something that will continue this year as well.

“As a coaching staff we teach that defense wins games, so we will be working on playing together as a unit all season long,” Allen said.

Both Hughesville and South Williamsport have first-year coaches in Katy McClintock and Dan Solley, respectively.

The Spartans and Mounties both missed the playoffs last season, but both coaches are eager to see how their teams fare this season.

For McClintock, she’s happy to see the team being unified throughout practices.

“They are united, which makes them dangerous. Stronger together is our motto, which has fueled this team with high energy and passion for the game,” McClintock said. “It is remarkable how quickly this team has taken to each other. They push each other to become better players and people, both on and off the field. I am honored to begin my career coaching such a special group of athletes.”

McClintock noted the team set goals for this year, which include both having less than five losses and winning in districts.

“The girls have set some high expectations for themselves, as they should,” McClintock said. “It is evident in the early weeks that they have come to play and are eager to challenge their opponents this fall. Failure is not an option for this incredibly talented and driven bunch. They are fit, focused and ready for change.”

For Solley at South Williamsport, he inherits a team just one season removed from playing for a district championship. Christa Matlack, the school’s all-time scorer, stepped down as coach this year.

“My biggest expectations are on myself and our coaches. Our job is to provide these kids with a foundation of ethics that reflects what’s best in sport,” Solley said. “We want these girls to walk away from the game better for it, whether a starter or a bench player. With regards to expectation of the team itself? On the field, we are simply looking for constant improvement day to day, ultimately working toward the perfect game. Win or lose as long as we see growth we are content.”

The Mounties went 7-8-1 last season, coming one win shy of qualifying for the postseason. Solley noted that missing the postseason last year is not something the team has talked about or used as motivation.

“We don’t need last year as motivation, we will remain motivated by the day at hand,” Solley said.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT

Coach: Dan Solley

Assistants: Tony Yerger, Marc Lovecchio

League: HAC-III

Classification: Class A

Last year: 7-8-1 (3-10-1 HAC)

Last playoff appearance: 2015

Roster: Seniors: Emalee Wein, Amiya Harris, Nicole Noviello, Sarah Persun. Juniors: Isabelle Blosser, Ava Persun, Josalyn Bradley, Cailin Minier, Ashley Gardner, Maddy Swarthout, Jaela House, Lexie Yerger, Bella Green, Megan Weber, Alyssa Johnson, Kayt Coppola, Lela Warner, Kerrin Summerson. Sophomores: Monica Boone, Gianna Fladd, Serenity Zimmerman, Jamie Caroway, Haley Neidig, Amilee Miller. Freshmen: Olivia Bennett, Elizabeth Manning, Lauren Weinhoffer, Molly Breen, Katelyn Huston, Samantha Condo, Savannah MacGill.

LOYALSOCK

Coach: Ben Comfort

Assistants: Lynnette Reitz, Ashley Sekel

League: HAC-III

Classification: Class AA

Last year: 17-4-1 (11-0-1 HAC) (league champ; def. Troy in District 4 Class AA quarterfinals; def. Athens in semifinals; lost to Montoursville 2-1 in championship; lost to Lake Lehman in first round of PIAA tournament)

Last playoff appearance: 2016

Roster: Seniors: Grace Schreckengast, Jenna Gardner, Makensi Doebler, Rhiallie Jessell, Ariel Hornberger. Juniors: Juliana Cruz, Charlotte Neylon, Sam Stopper, Sarah Van Fleet, Hailey Zurich, Hannah Knecht. Sophomores: Eric Machmer, Jaime Ellis, Kylah Tillotson, Anna Burdett, Piper Bennett, Olivia Czap, Kathryn Shangraw, Elisa DiNicola, Sofia Pulizzi, Eve Heilenman. Freshmen: Jocelyn Cruz, Grace Boos, Addie Meyer, Emma Bower, Lindsay Snyder, Evy Andrews, Jenaka Day.

HUGHESVILLE

Coach: Katy McClintock

Assistants: Kari Hack, Cody Hack, Zane Campbell

League: HAC-III

Classification: Class AA

Last year: 5-12-1 (4-9-1 HAC)

Last playoff appearance: 2015

Roster: Seniors: Allena McKinley, Jayden Leighow, Ashlynne Eichenlaub. Juniors: Chanel Screws, Madelyn Kaiser, Olivia Bower, Anna Barto, Valerie Ammar-Khodja. Sophomores: Brittany Wright, Jaid Stanton, Sarah Pysher, Leah Peterman, Morgan HOpkins, Kaylin Hicks, Gracie Grieco, Georgia Fields, Katie Babb. Freshmen: Gillian Way, Jillian Stutzman, Olivia Strother, Alex Snyder, Brandianna Shaner, Sydney Millheim, Emma McGinley, Kylie Lyons, Lauren Henry, Cassie Heiney, Mallory Hampton, Taylor Hauck, CC Getz, Rachel Detwiler, Kenna Ammar-Khodja.

WARRIOR RUN

Coach: Jen Allen

Assistants: Alecia Gold, Eileen Sodano, Erin Butler

League: HAC-III

Classification: Class A

Last year: 17-4-3 (9-1-2 HAC) (def. Northeast Bradford in District 4 Class A quarterfinals; def. Line Mountain in semifinals; def. Benton in championship; def. York Catholic in first round of PIAA tournament; def. Conwell Egan in quarterfinals; lost to Fairfield in semifinals)

Last playoff appearance: 2016

Roster: Seniors: Abby Staman, Kierra Trivelpiece, Jane James, Madi Majcher, Emma Burrows, Megan Zimmerman, Latricia Yocum. Juniors: Jamie McCormack, Avery Bieber, Lexie Rogers, Emily Ritner, Brooke Lininger, Cariea Robbins. Sophomores: Paige Bowman, Melanie Brown, Sienna Tompkins. Freshmen: Jessica Vognetz, Hailey Bower, Sydney Hoffman, Hannah Michael, Amber Axtman, Savannah Robbins, Kylee Brouse, Zoe Reese, Kayleean Finan, Mikaela Majcher, Madi Winters.

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