HAC girls soccer preview: Hughesville hopes to carry momentum into 2018

After winning five games in 2016, Hughesville looked as if it would end the year with even less wins. The Spartans were sitting at 3-11 with four games left on the schedule.

But that’s when Hughesville rattled off four consecutive wins against South Williamsport, Troy, Milton and Montgomery to end the year with seven wins.

It wasn’t a winning season, nor did the Spartans clinch a postseason berth. But for coach Caitlin McClintock, in her first season last year, it was a big step in the right direction to accomplishing a goal and getting to the playoffs.

“The motivation within our players stems from closing our 2017 season with a four-game winning streak. In finally breaking the mold and freeing ourselves from those close losses, the girls assimilated this surge of strength in their confidence and thus, in their play,” McClintock said.

Hughesville is hoping to take that motivation and turn it into more wins this year.

The Spartans bring back leading goal scorer Morgan Hopkins, who developed her skill from her sophomore year last year to a junior this season.

“I believe Morgan has learned a lot about herself from last season until now. Even in achieving the highest goal scoring record on the team, she and I both know this value could have easily been greater,” McClintock said. “When it comes down to it, confidence is the key. Morgan knows that she needs composure to get the job done well, especially when you have the pressure of leading your team’s offense. She is older, she is wiser and much more confident than before. I can’t wait to see what unfolds as a result.”

McClintock is also excited about the Spartans’ back line, as Hughesville returns some key defenders in Sydney Millheim, Gracie Grieco and defensive midfielder Sarah Pysher.

The Spartans will be competing in the HAC-III again this year, a tough league that features Loyalsock, Bloomsburg, Southern Columbia and South Williamsport, all teams which made postseason runs last year.

And both South Williamsport and Loyalsock should be competitors not only within the league again, but district play as well.

South Williamsport returns a good amount from last year’s playoff team, including goalie Alyssa Johnson and scoring threat Lela Warner.

“Alyssa is the total package. She sees the field, has a strong presence and her instincts are quick and smart,” South coach Dan Solley said. “This is one position on our roster that I have no worries about.

“Lela is a great kid. She really wants what’s best for the team and with that, her ability to draw defenses will definitely open up a bunch of opportunities for our girls off the ball,” Solley added. “We’ll have to wait and see, however I think this is going to be a nice year for our team offensively.”

The Mounties went 10-7-2 last year before losing to eventual Class A semifinalist East Juniata in the playoffs, and South Williamsport is hoping to get back to districts and possibly get farther.

“I am guardedly optimistic. We’ve got a lot of experience and the girls are much more understanding of what we want them to do. Ultimately, we just want to see positive change with each game moving forward working to become the best team possible,” Solley said. “The girls can feel their potential and are certainly eager to out-do last season.”

For Loyalsock, one huge loss is that of offensive threat Rhiallie Jessell, now at Saint Francis. Jessell constantly forced teams to defend her and helped open up the offense for teammates to get shots off. But even with Jessell gone, coach Ben Comfort is confident in the Lancers’ offensive abilities again coming into the 2018 season.

“We graduated some very good talent. Three out of the five graduates are playing in college. You never want to replace players, but that’s just the process of things. We have a team full of players who are reading and are committed to playing excellent soccer,” Comfort said. “We’ve never really relied on one player to score for us. That should hold true to this season as well. We get a lot of players into the attack, so it’s not unusual to see our outside backs and defensive midfielders finding the back of the net along with the forwards.”

Among those back include Juliana Cruz, Charlotte Neylon, Sam Stopper and Sarah Van Fleet to name a few.

Loyalsock also lost goalie Grace Schreckengast, one of the top goalies in the area.

“Grace is playing at the next level for a reason, so trying to fill that void exactly how it was will never happen,” Comfort said. “But now we have Mari Houseknecht who is athletically gifted and talented in her own right. Mari has the potential to become a standout goalkeeper. She just needs to keep continually buying in to getting better.”

HAC-I

Like their male counterparts, the Williamsport girls last year won a repeat district championship but once again came up shy of getting out of the first round of the state tournament.

The Millionaires want to improve off last year and get back into the playoffs.

“Goal is to get back to the district championship game, win districts and move on past the first round of states,” Williamsport coach Scott McNeill said.

And the Millionaires have all the pieces back to do just that.

Williamsport did graduate Madison Bowman, but back is the offensive scoring threat of Katie Penman and Samantha Reeder, two players that defenses have a tough time slowing down and containing.

“Katie and Samantha have both improved their skillsets, which added with their speed, will combine for dangerous threats whenever they are around the ball up top.”

Also back is goalie Lila Vogelsong, who had eight shutouts last year for Williamsport, tied for second-most in the area with Montoursville’s Avery Zales.

“Lila is back and has grown in size and improved her skillset in goal,” McNeill said. “She has increased her distance in punts, will be taking goal kicks and had a good preseason in goal.”

Williamsport isn’t the only team in the HAC-I that wants to build off last year’s success. Put Montoursville into that category as well.

Last year, Montoursville went 12-6 and won the league with a 9-1 record in the HAC-II. Montoursville is now in the HAC-I, but don’t think that means the goals and expectations have changed. The Warriors lost in the District 4 Class AA quarterfinals to Loyalsock in overtime last year and like Williamsport, have the ability to get back into the postseason and make another run.

Montoursville did lose four senior starters, including defensive standout Lauren O’Malley and offensive threat Kyleigh Balint, but Vic Gorini knows the team has talent returning.

“We graduated strong senior classes and the majority of our starters the past two seasons, but we have kids who have been waiting to show what they can do on the field and we look forward to giving them the opportunity this year,” Gorini said. “Lauren O’Malley, Kyleigh Balint, Caroline King and Kaylie Schans rarely came off the field over the past few years and will be big holes we need to fill.

“This season will require a fully collective effort among everyone on the field for us to obtain victories.”

And also like Williamsport, the Warriors bring back a solid goalie in Avery Zales. Zales posted eight shutouts last year.

“Avery was a solid keeper for us last season and she’s well trained in her position,” Gorini said. “I expect her role to be even more important for the team this season and her coaches and teammates are confident she’ll be up to the challenge.”

Central Mountain is looking to improve in wins, goals scored and goals allowed after going 4-13 last season and 2-10 in the HAC-I. The Wildcats graduated a handful of seniors but second-year Central Mountain coach Cole Black is confident in the younger players he has, including Hailey Swortwood taking over in goal.

“She’s shown a lot of growth over the last year and we’re really excited to see what this season has in store for her,” Black said.

Like Central Mountain, Milton struggled last year in the win column, going just 2-15-1. The Black Panthers do return a lot including midfielders Leah Bergey and Taylor Snyder, forward Crystal Hamilton, and defenders Aubrey Chappell, Bevi Girardi, Katy Weaver and Laura Wassmer and bring back Kamryn Snyder in goal.

“We have strength in numbers and a lot of young talent on the team. The entire team is willing to work very hard to achieve our goals,” first-year Milton coach Rod Harris said. “The outlook is to play together and united as one. We expect to be a contender at the end of the season when district playoffs occur. My expectations for this team are to play with intensity, communicate the entire game, play together as one up and down the field and to have fun. We expect to have a better than .500 record this year.”

HAC-II

Of the three area teams in the league — Jersey Shore, Lewisburg, Warrior Run — only the Defenders tasted the postseason last year as Lewisburg missed out on the playoffs for the first time in the 2000s.

Warrior Run has a new face on the sidelines in Rob Ryder, replacing Jen Allen who helped keep Warrior Run a perennial district powerhouse each year. And Ryder knows the expectations at Warrior Run are still high.

“Our goal is to be playoff bound by meeting every team with equal intensity and consistently executing the fundamentals,” Ryder said. “There is always some pressure with a high school coaching position. However, we have a team of good players and a supportive soccer community around us.”

Warrior Run doesn’t have HAC-III first-team defender Jane James back, and also lost fellow first team midfielder Emma Burrows to graduation. In addition, the Defenders have to find a new starting goalie, as Megan Zimmerman graduated as well, a HAC-III honorable mention all-star last season.

But much like Allen’s philosophy always was, Ryder also believes in the “next player up” mentality.

Lewisburg is looking to once again be a postseason contender and already has put last year’s disappointment in the rear view mirror. The Green Dragons return a lot of familiar names from last year, including Sarah Ayers, Allison Reed, Sarah Burns, Selena Perymashkin, Grace Rosevear, HAC-II second-team midfielder Allison Reed and HAC-II first-team defender Chloe Michaels.

Michaels was one of the district’s top defenders last year and Lewisburg coach Jose Vega is more than thrilled she’s back this year.

“With Chloe being back in the heart of the defense, the team plays with confidence knowing that when we break down as a team, Chloe is back to clean things up,” Vega said. “Also one thing that people missed about her is that she is a great leader and a terrific role model for the younger players.”

First-year coach Darrin Bischof knows that he has a task ahead of him to try to turn the Jersey Shore program around as the Bulldogs are coming off a 4-14 season. And Bischof realizes it won’t be easy.

“We realize it is going to be difficult with our schedule with strong soccer programs that compete in the HAC-II, but if we can work to get better as the season progresses, then I feel we can get better as a program,” Bischof said.

One player back for the Bulldogs is Hannah Kauffman in goal, a second-team HAC-I all-star selection a year ago.

“(She) is our goalie and will keep us in games. She has that ability, but I am looking for Annalise Eiswerth, Lydia Kirkendall and Anna Fisher to lead as seniors and captains along with Hannah and help our youth push through tough moments,” Bischof said. “And we have some others who could have breakout years, like a Maddie Maihle, Taylor Fleming or others, if we play to our potential and work better as a team.”

WILLIAMSPORT

Coach: Scott McNeill

Assistants: (not available)

League: HAC-I

Last year’s record: 15-7 (8-4 HAC-I) (District 2-4 Class AAAA champions, lost in first round of state tournament)

Roster: Seniors: Katrina Zaczkiewicz, Jenna Whitford, Samantha Reeder, Sydney Bruno, Sydney Dieffenbach, Kaida Muise, Madelyn Bain. Juniors: Lila Vogelsong, Shawna Newcomer, Alexandra Lake, Bree Paterson, Angelina Morrone, Abigail Berthold, Talia Lewis, Tatium Butler. Sophomores; Mary Hillman, Hannah Myers, Nevaeh Williams, Zola Daverio, Whitney Felix, Violet Lindsay, Katie Penman, Jessica Robinson. Freshmen: Kaylee Helmrich, Mallory Pardoe, Sarina Beiter, Kendall Hennigan, Mataya Dietrich, Matison Cramer, Paige Porter, Riley Shipman, Adelia Riley.

CENTRAL MOUNTAIN

Coach: Cole Black

Assistants: McKenzie Bubb, Allison Clausen, Brooklynn Lose

League: HAC-I

Last year’s record: 5-13 (2-10 HAC-I)

Roster: Seniors: Hunter Barger, Sloane Tressler, Elizabeth Bottorf, Makayla Brungard. Juniors: Violet Lindsay, Desmyn Moore, Madison Courter, Madison Alley, Yuridia Castro, Emily Coleman, Kalina Miller, Hailey Swortwood, Macenzie Walsh, Avery Eckley, Amelia McCloy. Sophomores: Bailey Brungard, Avery Baker, Jocelyn Renninger, Porsche Woods, Talyor Casilio, Damaris Hall, Quinlynn McCann, Dani Cherry, Haley McCollin, Grace Remick, Miller ravel, Morgan Confer, Adysyn Phillips, Ithaca Phillips. Freshmen: Riley Kaluzny, Maddison Briggs, Kylie Quiggle, Emily Short, Megan Reese, Mia Kopysciansky, Ava Bair, Sydney Cooper, Morgyn Conklin, Rylie Swortwood, Aubrielle Pinero, Olivia Miller.

MILTON

Coach: Rod Harris

Assistants: Brian Hunter, Courtney Kovilaritch, Bing Pursel

League: HAC-I

Last year’s record: 2-15-1 (2-7 HAC-II)

Roster: Seniors: Paige Treibley, Zoe Doebler, Alexis Bennett, Kylee Hill, Kayla Reich, Rachelle Campbell. Juniors: Francis Aguilar-Maradiaga, Kylie Roup, Leah Bergey, Aubrey Chappell, Bevianna Girardi, Taylor Snyder, Sage Starks, Mariah Fox, Brelynn McCarty, Mylea Neidig, Kamryn Snyder. Sophomores: Kathryn weaver, Laura Wassmer, Hailey Hardy, Crystal Hamilton, Zoe Paul, Caitlyn Johnson. Freshmen: Janae Bergey, Riley Murray, Leah Walter, Mackenzi McBride, Abigail Snyder, Camden Lloyd, Alexis Beaver, Aaliyah Myers, Natalie Rowe, Lindsey Campbell.

MONTOURSVILLE

Coach: Vic Gorini

Assistants: Alexandra Butler, John McKenna, Marissa Rojas

League: HAC-I

Last year’s record: 12-6 (9-1 HAC-II) (League champions, lost to Loyalsock in District 4 Class AA quarterfinals)

Roster: Seniors: Anna Schult, Marlea Fry, Alexa Mitchell, Samantha Huyck, Allyse Marchioni, Alaynah Grimes. Juniors: Antone’ James, Bella Masias, Jade Neiman, Morgan Umstead, Avery Zales. Sophomores: Logan Carey, Katie Musto, Hannah Albert, Alivia McDonald, Allie Kiess, Marin Catino, Alexa Ulmer, Mackenzie Cohick. Freshmen: Raya Pauling, Lily Saul, Emma McMurray, Alexa Tupper, Jacee Millheim.

JERSEY SHORE

Coach: Darrin Bischoff

Assistants: Keith Neece, Staci Lorson

League: HAC-II

Last year’s record: 4-14 (1-11 HAC-I)

Roster: Aubrey Sechrist, Annalise Eiswerth, Madison Maihle, Destiny Mitchell, Sara Pecchia, ANna Fisher, Meaghan Keegan, Arabella Fiedler, Sophia Kauffman, Elizabeth Fishel, Olivia Farr, Taylor Fleming, Hannah Kauffman, Kylie Kirkendall, Lydia KIrkendall, Kayla Mundrick, Addie Bierly, Jenna Kramer, Savannah Brion, Natalie Hayes, Sadie Griswold, Emma Tovar, Harmony Waxmunsky.

LEWISBURG

Coach: Jose Vega

Assistants: Mark Gargano, Michael Ayers

League: HAC-II

Last year’s record: 7-9-1 (4-5-1 HAC-II)

Roster: Seniors: Sarah Ayers, Allison Reed, Sarah Burns, Selena Permyashkin, Gawhara Abou-Eid, Cassia Kiepke. Juniors: Grace Rosevear, Chloe Michaels, Hannah Abou-Eid. Sophomores: Ella Reis, Lauren Gross, Chelsea Stanton, Morgan Harris, Catherine Simone, Taryn Beers, Amelia Kiepke, Tonya Omlor, Mary Shaffer, Theresa Zeh. Freshmen: Elena Malone, MAdison Cardello, MAggie Daly, Reese McGregor, Medha Yenireddy.

WARRIOR RUN

Coach: Rob Ryder

Assistants: Erin Butler, Joe Bowman

League: HAC-II

Last year’s record: 11-9-1 (6-6 HAC-III) (lost to Bloomsburg in District 4 Class A semifinals)

Roster: Seniors: Avery Bieber, Brooke Lininger, Jamie McCormack, Emily Ritner, Cariea Robbins. Juniors: Paige Bowman, Melanie Brown. Sophomores: Amber Axtman, Hailey Bower, Kylee Brouse, Kayleean Finan, Nicole Keim, Hannah Michael, Zoe Reese, Savannah Robbins, Jessica Vognetz, Madison Winters, Sydney Hoffman. Freshmen: Leah Grow, Morgan Lenhart, Madelyn Ross, Avery Soltesz, Aliyah Wagner, Alayna Wilkins.

HUGHESVILLE

Coach: Caitlin McClintock

Assistants: (not available)

League: HAC-III

Last year’s record: 7-11 (2-10 HAC-III)

Roster: Seniors: Chanel Screws, Olivia Bower. Juniors: Brittany White, Jaid Stanton, Sarah Pysher, Leah Peterman, Morgan HOpkins, Kaylin Hicks, Gracie Grieco. Sophomores: Gillian Way, Olivia Strother, Alexandra Snyder, Sydney Millheim, Emma McGinley, Kylie Lyons, Lauren Henry, Cassie Heiney, Taylor Hauck, Mallory Hampton, Cierra Getz, Paige Frantz, Kenna Ammar-Khodja. Freshmen: Madison Young, Alainya Sherwood, Kayleigh Rooker, Faith Kepner, Mikayli Higley, Makayla Hicks, Sarah Gardner, Emily Campbell.

LOYALSOCK

Coach: Ben Comfort

Assistants: Lynette Reitz

League: HAC-III

Last year’s record: 14-5 (9-3 HAC-III) (lost to Midd-West in District 4 Class AA semifinals)

Roster: Seniors: Juliana Cruz, Maggie Ryder, Allie Dowell, Charlotte Neylon, Sam Stopper, Sarah Van Fleet, Hannah Knecht, Rhandie Jessell. Juniors: Kathryn Shangraw, Kylah Tillotson, Anna Burdett, Piper Bennett, Olivia Czap, Elisa DiNicola, Eve Heilenman. Sophomores: Evy Andrews, Lindsay Snyder, Jocelyn Cruz, Addie Mayer, Mari Houseknecht. Freshmen: Grace Baylor, Emma Rude, Alexis Keefer, Luisa Ortega-Ramos, Kayla Scampone.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT

Coach: Dan Solley

Assistants: Tony Yerger, Marc Lovecchio, Ava Pursun (manager), Josalyn Bradley (manager)

League: HAC-III

Last year’s record: 10-7-2 (5-5-2 HAC-III) (lost to East Juniata in District 4 Class A quarterfinals)

Roster: Seniors: Cailin Minier, Maddy Swarthout, Jaela House, Lexie Yerger, Bella Green, Megan Weber, Kayt Coppola, Lela Warner, Ashley Gardner, Kerrin Summerson. Juniors: Amilee Miller, Haley Neidig, Jamie Caroway, Serenity Zimmerman, Monica Boone. Sophomores: Savannah MacGil, Elizabeth Manning, Samatha Condo, Lauren Weinhoffer,. Freshmen: Jaiden Bradley, Claudia Green, Laila Shams, Olivia Casella, Elaina Decker,Grace Pulver, Maddy Nelson, Olivia Beck, Mahailya Breen, Bayleigh Guiser

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