Mid-Penn girls soccer preview: South Williamsport, Muncy look to replace scoring threats
For two area schools in the Mid-Penn, there’s the task of replacing incredible scoring threats that could change the course of a game seemingly at will. For Sullivan County, it’s replacing a coach who helped rebuild a program into a district contender.
South Williamsport and Muncy are both looking to replace standout players. The Mounties will look to replace Haley Neidig, a 30-goal scorer last year who was a tough player to try to contain. In addition, she could play anywhere South Williamsport needed her. While she was a forward last year, Neidig also was a previous HAC all-star selection at defender and midfielder, proving how versatile and dangerous she was.
Without her on the field, the Mounties will look to have others to score and for Marc Lovecchio, he’s hoping that her absence on the field means others will step up.
“I think Haley scored 60% of our goals, she was just a remarkable player. Then Amilee Miller (who also graduated) didn’t get as much acclaim as Haley, but she basically ran the midfield for us. So we’re really young,” Lovecchio said. “It may also help us. You see this sometimes over the years, when you lose two or three tremendous players, sometimes they have to become more cohesive because they can’t rely on that one player and we’ll be looking for different girls to score and we’ll see who steps up.”
The Mounties will be fairly young this season. The team has just three seniors on the roster and a fairly good freshman and sophomore class.
“Overall I would expect us to be competitive. It’s going to be hard against some of the teams,” Lovecchio said.
Muncy’s in the same boat as the Mounties in having to move forward without the program’s all-time scorer in Aleaha Bigelow. Coach Jason Gresh knows that a single player can’t replace Bigelow though and is looking at the team as a whole to take over.
“No doubt that we will miss Aleaha. Replacing the program’s all-time leading scorer is never easy. We aren’t going to try to replace her with any one individual, rather tackle that task together as a team,” Gresh said.
The Indians do return Mid-Penn all-star defender Avery Bigelow though, a player that will help bring some experience as a sophomore this year on the field.
“She has worked hard and we have talked about the things she needs to do to continue to progress,” Gresh said. “Now her challenge is to take that next step.”
Muncy has a fairly young team, much like South Williamsport. The Indians have just four seniors listed and have a group of eight freshmen and sophomores playing. To Gresh, having a young team is both the team’s weakness and strength going into 2020.
“We will have a very young team with only four seniors. The girls have been coming to open fields and working very hard since the restart,” Gresh said. “Their conditioning will be a key asset. I am excited to watch them progress from game to game.”
In addition to Bigelow on the backline, Muncy also has solid players such as Mia Edkin and Cierra Charles who had breakout freshmen seasons last year. Also returning are Lauren Anderson, a player coming off an injury that cut her sophomore season short, and juniors Hailey Ohl and Hannah Dgien.
Muncy will have Sarah Dgien in goal, a player who Gresh noted put in her time to take the next step as a goalie.
“All of the girls have really worked hard. They knew that we had to replace six senior starters from last year and they have responded,” Gresh said. “They are excited to have the opportunity to play this season. Now it is about playing, learning and continuing to progress.”
Pete Swinick helped turn Sullivan County’s program around, going from a winless first year in 2014 to coaching the Griffins to the program’s first postseason win in history in 2017. The Griffins had a three-year span as well from 2016-18 where the program won at least 13 games each season.
Swinick stepped down after last season, leaving big shoes to fill as first-year coach Kelly Flottemesch takes over the reigns. She doesn’t have a bare cupboard to work with though, as Sullivan County does return a lot of talent and Flottenmesch is looking forward to taking over the program.
“The girls are excited to have a fresh face with new innovative ideas,” Flottemesch said.
Among those players back are Mid-Penn all-stars Bethany Beinlich and Chloe Burke, a senior and junior, respectively, who are both standouts.
Both Beinlich and Burke were able to almost score at will last year. Beinlich ended with 23 goals and 18 assists and Burke led the team with 28 goals and dished out seven assists. Kassidy Beinlich is also returning this year, a player who had six goals and seven assists last year. To say Sullivan County will have numerous scoring threats is no exaggeration.
Flottemesch noted the Griffins’ strength this year will be positive communication, teamwork and highly-skilled athletes. She also expects the Griffins to not only be near the top of the Mid-Penn at season’s end, but “we anticipate winning the conference.”
Montgomery had a bit of a rough season last year, going 2-15-1, but first-year coach Greta Kriner — a former standout herself in soccer with Hughesville in the late 2000s — is already seeing the players improving and hoping to turn things around with more wins.
“I think my girls could attest to the fact that soccer in Montgomery is already changing. It’s challenging, hard work, fun and they are learning and getting so much better already this summer,” Kriner said. “I set goals back in the middle of June when the school allowed us to start open practices and my girls have already passed most of them that were set. My ‘lets win’ attitude is rubbing off on the girls that they were asking me to have more practice each week, getting more and more competitive with each other and wanting to add weight room time on top of practice.”
Kriner said that as a team, the Red Raiders want to make this more than a three-month program and do whatever they need to get to a .500 record.
The Red Raiders do bring back goalie Abi Duck, who was solid last year for Montgomery, in addition to Jewels Tawney, Morgen Tupper and Brieanna Twigg. All four are seniors this year.
The Mid-Penn should be competitive once again, with Benton and Millville also thrown into the mix. Lovecchio is glad the Mounties will be competing in the league this year after previously being in the HAC-III.
“I think it’s probably a league more appropriate to the size of our school and the talent level we have,” Lovecchio said.
For Gresh, it’ll be another tough year in the league for the Indians.
“I think the Midd-Penn will be tough as usual. Sullivan and Millville are always solid. Benton is returning the vast majority of its players from a very good team, and now South Williamsport is in,” Gresh said. “Our goal is to compete, finish in the top third of the league and qualify for playoffs.”
Coach: Marc Lovecchio
Assistants: Jane House, Tracy Knoebel
Last year: 10-9 (5-5 HAC-III) (lost to Bloomsburg, 3-0, in first round of District 4 Class A playoffs)
Roster: Seniors: Lauren Weinhofer, Elizabeth Manning, Savannah MaGill. Juniors: Payden Mathiasson, Jaiden BRadley, Mahailya Breen, Olivia Casella, Claudia Green, Laila Shams, Grace Pulver. Sophomores: Piper Minier, Brooklyn Lentz, Sophia Casella, Ella Loiselle, Zoe Threeton, McKaye Wilton, Alsoa Cramer, Aleigha Reippel, Olivia Goode, Julia Yeagle. Freshmen: Brynn Knoebel, Cara Crispin-Emmerick, Lilian Bradley, Lillian Barrett, Maddy Breen, Adrianna Young, Lucy Binkley, Lila McEwen.
Coach: Jason Gresh
Assistants: Madalyn Confer, Bob Titman
Last year: 7-9 (5-5 Mid-Penn)
Roster: Seniors: Adrianna Simpson, Alexis Treese, Haylee DePasqua, Brooklynn Ohl. Juniors: Hailey Ohl, Zoe Yordy, Sarah Dgien, Laura Glasser, Lauren Anderson, Hannah Dgien. Sophomores; Cierra Charles, Avery Bigelow, Mia Edkin, Kylee Jacobs, Abby Shaffer. Freshmen: Aja Alvarez, Nevaeh Matlack, Anna Seeley.
Coach: Kelly Flottemesche
Assistants: BJ Springman, Heather Burke
Last year: 7-11 (5-5 Mid-Penn)
Roster: Seniors: Bethany Beinlich, Kassidy Beinlich, Kyler Burke, Paige Burke, Angel Fitzgerald, Olivia Harney, Sophia Springman. Juniors: Chloe Burke, Lorena Marquardt, Zoe Pedro, Ellie Springman, Kaelyn Wettlaufer, Madison Williams. Sophomores: Mallory Dickinson, Ava Dunham. Freshmen: Cloe Immel, Mackenzie Insinger, Anna Springman, Karlee Wettlaufer.
Coach: Greta Kriner
Assistants: Robin Levesque
Last year: 2-15-1 (1-9 Mid-Penn)
Roster: Seniors: Abigail Duck, Jewels Tawney, Morgen Tupper, Brieanna Twigg, Kylie Persing. Juniors: Cara Bossley, Marissa Rupert, Natalie St. James, Alexa Lulez. Sophomores: Erblinda Imeri, Madeline Bender. Freshmen: Linzy Bartlow, Rubi Solano, Makayla Ayers.