Battle-tested Penn-Trafford girls soccer grows into playoff contender

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Sunday, October 25, 2020 | 5:57 PM


It has been decades since Penn-Trafford missed the WPIAL girls soccer playoffs. This was not going to be the year the run ended.

While the Warriors had to grind a little more than usual to lock down a postseason spot, the team looks to have grown along the way.

Tight games have sharpened their sense of urgency.

“To sum it up in one word: heart,” first-year coach Jimmy Mastroianni said. “We had three games in a row go into overtime. Two games went into double-overtime that resulted in a tie. Another game went into single overtime that resulted in a loss.

“The girls played with heart until the very last minute in all of those tough games.”

Penn-Trafford (5-5-2) has four, one-goal losses and a pair of one-goal wins. The Warriors dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to Latrobe, the first time they lost to the Wildcats in 25 years.

They finished fourth in Section 3-4A, a small drop from the lofty first- or second-place spot they usually occupy.

The Warriors will open the WPIAL playoffs 6:30 p.m. Monday at Seneca Valley (7-3).

Mastroianni said his system still is taking root. Different lineups and position changes have helped develop the team’s still-budding identity.

“Each game they get stronger and stronger,” he said. “We have some great players, and they still need to play with creativity. We have moved several players around to see where our strengths and weakness lie.”

Connecting the moving parts in the lineup could be what makes Penn-Trafford a tough out in the playoffs.

“We need to clean things up a bit,” the coach said. “Our defense … has really been strong, however, we need a better connection with our midfield and forwards. We also need to do a better job attacking and defending as a team.”

The Warriors’ defenders are junior Taylor Jones, seniors Maya Roman, Taylor DeStefano and Maria Sholtes, and sophomore Mia Muro. Senior McKenzie Septak and junior Malia Kearns are the top scorers, and junior goalkeeper Taylor Lloyd has been strong in replacing Velcro-handed Megan Giesey, now at Pitt-Johnstown. Giesey had 38 career shutouts and was part of 57 wins.

Lloyd, Matroianni said, has excelled in the overtime games.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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