Fast, experienced roster has Thomas Jefferson girls soccer thinking big

Sunday, August 27, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Thomas Jefferson’s girls soccer team has great expectations for the 2023 season.

The Jaguars won the Section 2-3A championship last year with a 13-1 record and ended up 17-3 overall.

“We expect to repeat as section champs and compete with the top teams,” coach Sean Richter said. “We have an athletic, fast group. It’s a smart class with a great work rate.

“We still are a young team. We have girls who started games as freshmen or sophomores who will impact alot.”

The Jaguars are led by senior forward Natalie Lamenza, who knocked in a team-high 25 goals last year.

“Natalie should be one of the goal leaders in 3A this year and an all-state player,” Richter said. “She has all the tools. She’s fast, strong and can shoot. She’s good at hiding her line and timing her runs. Natalie’s not lucky, she’s good.”

Lamenza has been playing soccer since the age of 6. She used to compete in track but gave that up to focus year-round on her soccer career.

She is a fourth-year starter and has earned all-WPIAL and all-section status in each of the past three seasons.

“A big goal for me is to hopefully reach being an all-state player,” Lamenza said. “As a captain and a senior, it feels like a very big responsibility to lead the team. I am going to try to make it my best season yet while being a good leader and accomplishing everything my coaches have dreamt for me and I believe I can reach.

“My (early) expectations for the team are to just start off strong and create a good foundation for the rest of our season. Our strengths are definitely our speed and being able to move the ball across the field while maintaining possession and our calm play. We are looking to go far into the playoffs, hopefully even into states.”

Lamenza has a 4.2 GPA, is a member of the National and French National honor societies and plans to pursue a college major in pharmacy.

She participates in the LEAP program at her school and is a member of several clubs: French, TJ vs. Cancer, Big Jag Little Cub and Best Buddies.

TJ’s postseason lineup a year ago consisted of Lamenza, Emma Martinis and Olivia Supp at forward, Olivia Della Lucia, Katie Sukal and Sami Maglioco at midfield, Bella Vozar, Jordan Sinclair, Ashlynn Fry, Sierra Frisoli and Abby Ngugi on defense and Abby Atkinson as goalkeeper.

The 5-foot-1 Vozar was a three-time all-section and two-time all-WPIAL selection and was honored as the Mon Valley Defender of the Year. She is continuing her career at American University, which competes in the Division I Patriot League.

Returning starters this year are Lamenza, Della Lucia, Sukal, Maglioco, Fry, Frisoli and Ngugi, who primarily plays center back but can move around to other positions.

Lamenza, Sukal, Frisoli and Ngugi are seniors. Della Lucia and Fry are juniors, while Maglioco is a sophomore.

“Sierra (Frisoli) and Ashlynn (Fry) have been lockdown defending the flanks,” Richter said. “They both are adapting well to what we want to do — inserting themselves into the attack.“Sami (Maglioco) is creative, technical and has impacted games for us assisting and scoring goals.”

Maglioco has been playing soccer since she was 5 and competed in softball until last year.

“It came to a point where I had to make a decision, and I had no hesitation going with soccer,” she said. “It is my only sport now. I have personal goals this season to reach 20 goals and get selected all-section.

“For the team, my expectation is to win the section then qualify for states. A strength we have as a group is our speed. We have quick and technical midfielders that are good on the ball and are good distributors. They (can) advance the ball quickly to our forwards.”

Maglioco, who along with Della Lucia complemented Lamenza offensively last season, participates in the Big Jag Little Cub program at TJ.

“Big Jag Little Cub consists of us getting paired up with a second grader and sending letters throughout the year and ending the year meeting for a fun day,” Maglioco said.

The Jaguars split decisions in the WPIAL playoffs last season, defeating West Allegheny in the first round before losing to Latrobe in the quarterfinals.

The TJ girls took an 11-game winning streak into their Oct. 27 matchup with Latrobe. The defeat was the first for the Jaguars since Sept. 19 when they dropped their only two regular-season games in back-to-back contests again Moon and Elizabeth Forward.

There are nine seniors on the team this year. There also are nine juniors and nine sophomores, along with 11 freshmen.

“I’m very excited for the upcoming season with how we finished last year and the group we have going into this year,” Maglioco said. “I think we could have an awesome year as long as we want it enough.”

Lamenza, Frisoli, Della Lucia and Fry are serving as co-captains in 2023.


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