Experienced group returns to lead Pine-Richland girls soccer

Saturday, August 25, 2018 | 12:57 AM

Despite spending last season breaking in a host of new players, including multiple freshmen starters, the Pine-Richland girls soccer team hoisted a third consecutive Section 1-4A title, and notched an eighth consecutive season of 10 wins or more.

This season, the Rams return the bulk of their roster. And, according to coach Jodi Chmielewski, there’s already no question as to what will be expected of them.

“What’s nice, when you have that kind of consistency within your program, year after year, is that they know what it takes to be successful each year. They understand what the expectation is, too,” Chmielewski said.

“I think they take pride in being one of the top teams, year in and year out. They understand, and it doesn’t really need to be talked about, they’re mature. They want to go out and defend their section title.”

The team’s four senior captains — Caroline Swan, Alaina Kalin, Abbie Waryanka and Alexa Burnham — slide back into their starting roles. A pair of juniors, Allie Malobicky and Izzy Boyd, will head back into the lineup as starters.

Sophomores make up the largest part of the roster. Katharine Kelly will be the team’s starting goaltender, and defenders Katie Rishel and Ally LeDonne also figure to see playing time after contributing last year.

Another key player for Pine-Richland is Megan Donnelly, who led the team in scoring last season as a freshman with 23 goals. Chmielewski said she expects the sophomore to again be a force around the net.

“Last year, we knew she had the talent and ability to put the ball in the net, but I think we had to be careful about not putting too much on her as a freshman. Still, she was extremely consistent in terms of scoring for us last year,” the Rams coach said.

“Now, I think it’s fair to say she will be depended upon to score for us. She does have a lot of talent around her, though, so I think she’ll be able to balance it out with assists, as well. “

One of the strengths for Pine-Richland should be the team’s ability to score, according to their coach. Donnelly’s ability to put the ball in the net will be complemented by Malobicky, who also plays attack. Swan, Kalin and Boyd will be in the mix for goal-scoring, as well.

The best asset for the Rams should be their shared experience on the field. One year after seeing that experience level as a shortcoming, Chmielewski said she can barely tell who are the fourth-year players and who are the relative newcomers.

“Last year, we were starting a lot of freshmen, and they all performed very well throughout the season,” Chmielewski said.

“But I think you see a difference with that year of experience. They seem a little more mature, and they seem comfortable with their communication. They meld in, in terms of playing style, and I think there will be a benefit to that once we get on the field against opponents.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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