A-K Valley athletes of the week: Springdale’s Grace Gent, Fox Chapel’s Mason Heininger

Saturday, November 12, 2022 | 3:01 PM

Grace Gent

Class: Senior

School: Springdale

Sport: Soccer

Report card: Gent scored both goals as Springdale’s girls soccer team defeated Mercyhurst Prep, 2-0, in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs Tuesday night. The senior forward entered Saturday’s PIAA quarterfinal contest against Greensburg Central Catholic with 26 goals this season for the WPIAL runner-up Dynamos.

How did the team play against Mercyhurst Prep on Tuesday?

I think we played very well. We possessed the entire game. We did well connecting with each other, which we’ve been working on all season. It was a great game to show our abilities and how we can together and what happens when we do work together.

How were your goals set up?

My first goal, I received the ball from one of our defenders and played it off to one of our center mids and Brooke Taliani passed to Molly Hurley. She cut it from the sideline to the middle. I just knew I had the chance and took no touches and hit it. It went top right corner. My second goal, we’ve been practicing a lot with free kicks. Bri Ross had a free kick. She kicked it to the net, the goalie saved it and bobbled it and I was able to get there before the defenders and blasted it in the net.

What are some things the team is doing well at this point in the season?

Just connecting with each other. We’re doing well communicating and knowing what everybody’s abilities are and we’re able to take advantage of that. We’re just doing really well with coming up from the back and connecting with the middle and the middle connecting with the wingers and the wingers connecting with the forwards. As we keep going our connections are increasing and getting better.

What is your role on this team?

To make sure I’m a positive-enforcing leader. I was named a captain and I’m very grateful for that. I want to show soccer can be fun with your friends but can also be serious. I like to enforce positivity. I’m glad to say I’m a leader on the team.

What did it take to bounce back after losing in the WPIAL championship game?

Mentality is a huge thing. We were so proud of ourselves for making it to that championship. We knew going into the first round of states was the mental aspect. We knew had to play hard and that’s exactly what we did.

How did you get started in soccer?

Ever since I was little, I joined my Harmar team in my town. My cousins and parents were motivating me to play. I Just loved it since I was little. I continued with it. I played since I was 4 years old. I just had really great experiences with my coaches, making me want to play more with my friends.

Have you made any plans for next fall?

I’m talking to a couple colleges now about soccer. I haven’t committed anywhere yet. I’m definitely thinking I’ll play D-III soccer. I plan to study environmental science and geology. I always just liked learning about science. My dad has always loved it as well with the geology side of it. Anytime I got the chance, I liked to collect stuff and learn new things outdoors. I think it’s the perfect major to go in because there are so many choices.

Are you involved in any other activities at Springdale?

I’m on the varsity basketball team and a captain. I’m involved with the botany club, National Honors Society, Art Club, Spanish Club.

What’s something people might not know about you?

People might not realize how nervous I get before games because I go in there strong and look so confident. I have to make sure everything is fine, get everything out of my head and focus on the game. It’s all mental. As soon as the whistle is blown, it’s all out.

Mason Heininger

Class: Senior

School: Fox Chapel

Sport: Hockey

Report card: Heininger scored two goals and added two assists to help Fox Chapel (6-1) to a 10-0 victory over Wheeling Central Catholic on Monday night. The senior forward centers the third line and plays winger on the first line. He has eight goals and 13 assists this season, which leads PIHL Class A.

How did the team play against Wheeling Central Catholic on Monday?

We played good. Wheeling kind of kept up with us for the first 10 minutes. We couldn’t crack them. (Danny Downey) scored and then everybody really opened up and started playing good and started to score more and everybody was producing. Sophomores, freshmen, everybody producing, which is so good.

What are some things the team is doing well at this point in the season?

Some of the kids that joined this year like Dom Casile and Trip (Goehring) and the freshmen Killian (Kissane), they’re starting to buy into the systems. At the beginning of the year everybody wanted to play by themselves and get points. When everybody buys in, the points will come. That’s what the coaches said.

What do you attribute all the scoring to?

We run a good forecheck. We get the puck down low. We run a good cycle. We use our ‘D’ and just go to the net. We try to get rushes. Just mainly the cycle. That’s mainly what we worked on in practice. If we get the puck down low, that opens up shots from the point, and we can get rebound goals.

What is your role on this team?

A leader. I wear that ‘C’ and my coaches are really hard on me. Even against Wheeling, my coach told me to cam down, I’m a leader and I can’t get frustrated.

What is the goal for the rest of the season?

Pens Cup. Losing in the semifinals last year is still there. We want to get back. Me and Danny (Downey), the one goal we wanted for our high school career is to win a Pens Cup. This is our last year. So we’re going 110 (percent) this year.

How did you get started in hockey?

I was 4 years old. I started roller blading around my house and driveway. I started ice skating and fell the first time I skated and didn’t like it. I started to roller skate a lot. When I was 5, I started playing ice. I played for the Renegades my whole life. This year, I’m playing for Pittsburgh Vengeance 18U.

Have you made any plans for next fall?

I plan to go to juniors; there’s a few teams that are contacting me.

What’s something people might not know about you?

I used to throw up before every game last year. I used to have a streak and finally the streak is over. I just started eating something different and earlier before the game, no dairy.

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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