Baldwin girls soccer enters season with new coach, enthusiasm

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Friday, September 6, 2019 | 8:04 PM


Tom Dongilli has embraced a basic yet enthusiastic approach to his first year as coach of the Baldwin girls soccer team.

“Work hard, learn our new system and roles, and the scores will take care of themselves,” Dongilli said.

The Highlanders went 2-15 last season. They were shut out 13 times and outscored 79-22.

Returning starters are senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Knight, senior forward Riley Nolan, junior forward Robyn Sopata, junior midfielders Adriana Marina and Tori Dicesare, and junior defenders Morgan Bell, Makenzie Auel and Addie Carr.

“Makenzie Auel, Addie Carr, (sophomore) Isabel Swanson, (junior) Elena Zandier and Morgan Bell make up a strong defensive core,” Dongilli said. ”We also have some exciting freshmen. Cadence Morton and Olivia Seiler are at midfield and will see a lot of playing time on varsity.”

Auel, Bell, Zandier and Maddison Beardsley, a senior forward, are captains.

The Highlanders are a junior-laden squad. There are five seniors, 12 juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen.

Other players looking to contribute are seniors Veronica Briones and Darryn Sleeman, and juniors Kelly Maloney, Roshna Bhattarai, Jessica Kosslow, Ashley Kubiak and Kaitlyn Pollard.

Rounding out the team are sophomores Mia Decesare, Megan Leary, Morgan Woods and Kritika Timsina, and freshman Adrianna Grande.

“This is a different team than in years past,” Dongilli said. “Many players are in new positions. Our formations are different, and the work ethic is incredible. You can feel the energy. I am excited to see them compete at a whole new level. They are focused and driven to make a change this season. We should be competitive and be really exciting to watch.

“I know most coaches say it, but I really do think we are going make an impact this season. The (girls) were motivated and ready from the first day I met them. I am excited about our potential.”

Dongilli, a Whitehall resident, coached at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart last season. The Chargers finished second in section play with a 10-4 record, advanced to the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals, and ended up 12-7 overall.

“My philosophy is simple: hard work, know your role and outwork your opponent,” Dongilli said. “We need to be the aggressor this season. Every player is held to this standard.

“I’ve coached many (area travel, in-house) teams. I am excited to be able to coach in the area where my family was raised. My last daughter still attends Baldwin High School, where she plays basketball.”

Baldwin competes in Section 2-4A with Bethel Park, Brashear, Canon-McMillan, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township and Upper St. Clair.

Peters Township and USC tied for first in the section last season.

Baldwin will play all games in September on the road. The schedule was set up accordingly in case of delays in the stadium renovation process.

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