Burrell girls soccer hitting stride after tournament win

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019 | 10:39 PM


The Burrell girls soccer team had high hopes over the summer and in preseason workouts that it could replicate past success and take the next step in Section 2-2A and beyond.

The potential was there, as veterans mixed with new talent and the season got started.

But it wasn’t until a pair of convincing wins last Friday and Saturday – 11-1 over District 9 4A DuBois and 3-0 over 3A Indiana – to win the Indiana Labor Day Tournament that Bucs players were able to start taking stock of where they stood in the early part of the season.

“How we bonded, how we played and how we executed our gameplan was good motivation going into the early part of the season,” said junior midfielder Jordyn Kowalkowski, who tallied a hat trick against DuBois.

“It’s a good start, but we still have work to do. We can’t be satisfied.”

The early part of the season for Burrell includes its section opener Wednesday evening at East Allegheny before a matchup with defending section champion Deer Lakes on Monday at Burrell’s Buccaneer Stadium.

The Lancers, who shut out Erie’s Villa Maria Academy, a PIAA quarterfinalist last year, 3-0 on Saturday, twice beat Burrell by one goal last season.

The only other blemish in section play was a tie against Freeport, and the Bucs finished second in the standings.

“We know it will be a pretty competitive section this year,” midfielder Megan Malits said.

Kowalkowski said the key to the team’s success in the season-opening tournament — as it will be the rest of the season — was possession.

“We talked a lot about that in the preseason,” Kowalkowski said. “The possession created scoring chances.”

Converting more scoring chances, she said, also is something the team can improve on moving forward.

“We got some nice chances against Indiana and scored three goals, but we could’ve had more if we would’ve finished some others,” she said. “You never know in a tight game when a particular scoring chance will be the difference. We have to have confidence that we can finish all our chances.”

In addition to Kowalkowski’s hat trick against DuBois, Danika Johnson and Allie Vescio each scored two goals to pace the offensive outburst.

Malits found the back of the net twice, and Vescio added a score against Indiana. The defense, with Delaney O’Brien in net, was stingy throughout 160 minutes.

“The tournament was a good test for us to start off the season before section play,” Malits said. “We were able to see what we are doing well and what we need to work on.”

First-year coach Frank Nesko didn’t pay much mind to the fact the DuBois victory was his first win with his new team.

He was more concerned with how the win could be an important building block for the Bucs.

“It was great to see the girls celebrate with each other,” Nesko said. “They came out strong from the start and established the momentum. They were playing good soccer and having some fun.”

Nesko said his players have long-range, medium-range and short-range goals, but they are experienced enough to know they can’t overlook anybody.

“The quality of coaching we have in this section and the quality of players we have in this section are at such a high level,” Nesko said. “With where they finished last year, every team in the section is hoping to knock them off.

“We had talked a lot and game-planned for how we were going to approach the season, especially the games in section, so it was nice to get our feet wet and see a lot of the things we’ve been working on work well in two good wins.”

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

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