A-K Valley athletes of the week: Burrell’s Tessa Mathabel, Fox Chapel’s Ethan Vaughan

Saturday, September 16, 2023 | 2:33 PM

Tessa Mathabel

Class: Senior

School: Burrell

Sport: Soccer

Report card: Mathabel scored key goals in a pair of Section 2-2A wins for Burrell (4-1, 1-1) this week. She had two goals, including the winner, in a 3-2 victory over Deer Lakes on Monday. She then scored a tying goal in a 3-2 win over Knoch on Wednesday. The senior forward, who was an all-section honoree in 2021, also had a winner earlier this season against Fort LeBoeuf.

How did it feel to score the game-winner against Deer Lakes on Monday?

Amazing. We needed that one goal to get us through to winning. It was nice to know that we were up one and could relax and just play the game.

How was the team able to rally past Knoch on Wednesday?

Working together. Our passes were amazing. Having our dynamic work together and going up the field with our passes and really just working together to get the ball in the back of the net (helped us win).

How was your goal set up?

Miley Kariotis had a beautiful cross into the corner. I was right outside the box.

What is that feeling like to score in a big situation like that?

The best feeling ever, just the feeling of accomplishment to just make that little small ball go in that big net; it’s the biggest relief.

What are some things the team is doing well so far this season?

Really working together. From all the freshmen coming up and the new people we’re working together with, we’re doing amazing, getting the ball up the field with our passes.

What are the goals for this team?

We’d like to win sections and go to the playoffs and finally get past the second round. Burrell has never done that. And just to work together, having fun while we’re doing it and, for me, to enjoy this last year.

Are there any teams you really look forward to playing?

Just playing Freeport again. We’re ready to show them what we have now that we’re more into the season.

What is your role on this team?

Definitely being as senior leader, showing the girls what to expect for the year coming up. Only having four seniors and having so many freshmen, just showing them what it’s like being in a high school game and coaching them up, getting them ready for when our seniors leave.

How did you get started playing soccer?

I’ve been playing since kinder soccer. I’m one of the only ones in my family that plays a sport out of my three siblings. I was the only one that stuck through it. I always fell in love with it, the aggressiveness, the adrenaline, just being on the field.

What’s it like having three siblings?

I’m the youngest. I have one brother and two sisters. It’s nice having that that support there. All my aggressiveness has come from having an older brother. They’ve helped shape me into the person I am.

Are you involved in any other activities at Burrell?

I do track. I hurdle.

What’s your favorite home-cooked meal?

Steak and potatoes.

Do you have a favorite restaurant in the area?


What type of music do you listen to?

I like the 2000s hip hop music.

How will the Steelers do this season?

I hope we make it to the Super bowl. I love watching them. They seem to align with what we do, so since we won this week, they should win, too.

What is something people might not know about you?

That I come from a big family and that I love cats. We have four.

Ethan Vaughan

Class: Junior

School: Fox Chapel

Sport: Cross country

Report card: On Friday, Vaughan bested the field at the annual Kiski Invitational at Northmoreland Park with a time of 15 minutes, 58.7 seconds, nearly 17 seconds faster than the runner-up, Freeport’s Michael Braun. Vaughan kicked off his season Sept. 2 by winning the Gateway Invitational at Boyce Park. On Sept. 9, he entered the prestigious Red, White & Blue Invitational at White Oak Park and clocked a time of 16:09 to finish fifth in the Class 3A boys field.

Does the Northmoreland Park course present a good challenge to you and other top runners?

It can be a fast or a slow course. It depends on the competition on a particular day. We rated the courses, and we put this one as one of the hardest because normally when we run this course it is in mid-September when it is still 70 to 80 degrees. The weather and the temperatures at this time are big factors. The second and third miles can really hurt because of that hill. My training has definitely helped me be able to handle a course like this.

What events coming up are you most looking forward to?

Sections back here at Northmoreland (Oct. 4), for sure. We’re also running (PIAA) Foundation on Saturday in Hershey. I am really excited for that because the trip out there and the competition day is a great time to connect and bond with teammates. It’s also some amazing competition, and it’s easily one of the hardest courses we’ll run this year because of the hills. I am excited to see what we can do.

What are your personal expectations for this season?

I have goals in mind to keep performing better and running faster overall compared to last year. I am very excited for states this year. Hopefully, I will make it there. I ran there last year. But you never know. They only take two teams and the top 10 individuals (from boys Class 3A) from WPIALs so it’s the hardest (WPIAL classification) to qualify for states. It is about running your best race at WPIALs and being mentally and physically prepared.

How did you get started in running, and more specifically, distance running?

It definitely started with my dad. He was a runner before me and taught me a lot about it. I would go run with him a bit. I also really enjoyed running around a lot while playing tag in recess in school. I decided to start running in middle school. In eighth grade track, I ran the mile and the 800, and I realized that, “Hey, I am pretty good at this.” I am always working and training with my teammates, and that has been helping.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?

I have been praying a lot and reading scripture. It helps me so much. It gives me a base to stand on. It puts me in a good place and gives me perspective. I know that no matter what goes on in a race and how much it may hurt, God is always with me. He has a plan for me in life, and I want to use the gifts he’s given me to the best of my ability.

What is your favorite school subject?

Probably science. Any science. And engineering. I’ve always wanted to be an architectural engineer, and I’ve also recently looked into a possible future with biology and even nuclear engineering. Those seem like a ton of fun. There are a lot of things to explore.

Do you hope to run in college?

I’m not sure. I want to run while in college but not for a college. I do have a lot of other interests. I really enjoy biking, and I can’t do that with running and cross country because of the danger of injury. I am looking at Pitt and Penn State (for academics). Those are my top two for sure.

How does biking help you with your competitive running?

Biking builds leg strength so much, and it helps when I am pushing up those hills. The biggest advice for any runner is to go on longer and harder bike rides. You will improve exponentially. It’s amazing how much it has helped me.

Do you have any superstitions?

For me, not really. But for the team, there is this concrete picnic table in RIDC Park, and before every race, no matter what season, we’ll go up there and run around it and then go do a training run. We’ve done that for four years now. It’s been an ongoing tradition.

What is something that people may not know about you?

I’ve been a firefighter for about half a year now. My friend brought me into it, and I quickly realized how meaningful and fun it is. I’ve been working through the MOD classes with other people. I’ve gained a lot of good friends through that, a lot of great people. I hope to become an EMT next summer. I am looking forward to beginning the training. I am excited for that. It will help me to think more, and develop a lot of new skills.

What is your dream vacation spot?

Probably Alaska or Colorado. I really enjoy the mountains. My dad has always wanted to go to Alaska, and I think it would be so cool to go there.

Do you have a favorite sports team?

Probably the Steelers. My family watch the games together.

What is your favorite restaurant?

I would say Burgatory. It’s pretty good. There’s nothing particular I order. Just what I feel like. Any type of sandwich, whether it’s a burger or a veggie burger. It doesn’t matter. I know there’s a lot to choose from every time.

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