After 4 years of success, Plum senior soccer players cap careers in PIAA playoffs

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Sunday, November 20, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Only one team had scored a goal against the Moon girls soccer team before the Tigers faced Plum in a PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal Nov. 12 at Peters Township’s Confluence Financial Partners Stadium.

The Mustangs were up for the challenge and put the first goal on the board within the first three minutes to put Moon in chase mode early on.

But the Tigers tied the game before halftime and pulled away with three goals in the second half to bring Plum’s season full of accomplishments to a sudden end.

“Certainly, there was disappointment,” Plum coach Jamie Stewart said.

“We scored early and put Moon on its heels a little bit. We felt pretty good about that. Even being tied at halftime, we felt pretty good about where we were and what we could do in the second half. But Moon is just such a strong team, and it just didn’t go our way.

“Once we got past that disappointment, it comes down to being proud of all that we did this year. I couldn’t have asked for more from the girls all year. They worked really hard and did some great things. There were a number of new challenges with a different section. They won the section, one of the goals we had set, and that set the stage for winning a couple of games in the WPIAL playoffs and making it to the semifinals and then making it to the state playoffs again. Unfortunately, we ran into a Moon team twice.”

Plum, which finished 18-3 overall, surrendered just 17 goals in 21 games, and Moon scored seven of the 17.

Stewart said he is looking forward to having the team reconvene Dec. 6 for a celebratory banquet at Veltre’s in Plum.

The eight-player senior class — defender Nina Kite, forward Annabel Arhin, midfielder Cam Collins, defender/midfielder Cam Rogers, defender/midfielder Kemyll Walker, midfielder/forward Kaitlyn Killinger, defender/midfielder Kaley Simqu, and defender Emily Berrott — witnessed a total of 72 wins over their four varsity seasons.

“The senior class, I am super proud of all that they accomplished,” Stewart said.

“They all started and logged a lot of minutes for us this year. They have done so much to change this program over their four years here. Certainly, the classes before them helped start that change, but these seniors were the ones who have been with us all four years of this run. We will certainly miss them as they move on to bigger and better things.”

Plum captured its fourth consecutive section championship this year, finishing 11-1. It’s only section loss came in a 1-0 result to Latrobe.

The Mustangs won the title outright by one point as a 1-1 tie between Latrobe and Penn-Trafford was the difference.

Plum went 72-10-1 the past four years combined with three WPIAL title-game appearances and three trips to the PIAA playoffs. The Mustangs were denied a spot at states in 2020 because PIAA covid logistics limited the state tournament to only district champions.

Plum finished the four years 46-2 in section and boasted a 42-game section win streak.

Four of the seniors — Killinger (Pitt), Simqu (Pitt), Collins (St. Francis, Pa.) and Arhin (Mercyhurst) — have signed to continue playing in college. Stewart said others also have designs on playing at the next level.

Killinger led the team with 25 goals and 12 assists, and she finished her varsity career with 88 goals. Rogers added 18 goals and six assists, while Arhin, who came back from injury to play in the final three playoff games, contributed 14 goals and six assists.

“It’s always a great feeling when you have players who excel and get the opportunity to play in college,” Stewart said.

“It’s fun to coach them day in and day out and watch them grow. I always keep watch of players and what they do in college and hope they remain engaged with the program.”

While this season still is fresh in the hearts and minds of all involved, Stewart said preparation soon will begin toward the 2023 season.

Four players in three starting spots — the goalkeeper tandem of sophomore Makenna Anderson and freshman Malayna Smith, junior midfielder Ava Weleski, and junior midfielder Ashley Kovach — will return with the several other starting spots up for grabs.

Weleski tallied nine goals and five assists this season.

“We’re letting the season still settle in, and then after the first of the year, we’ll talk about (next season) with the returning players and set goals for what we want to do in the offseason,” Stewart said.

“Honestly, there are big shoes to fill. As we look throughout the year, we had injuries where people had to step in. It was a good opportunity for them to see what it’s like in the varsity mix. There are great opportunities for some younger players to step up and hopefully keep this thing going.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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