Franklin Regional girls soccer opens season with hat trick

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Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 7:11 PM


Franklin Regional opened preseason camp with a hat trick: three practices a day for the first three days.

It’s a time-honored tradition coach Rich Garland started when he took over the program 20 years ago.

The first practice was at 6 a.m. The last ended at 10 p.m.

“It’s kind of a misnomer,” Garland said. “The first practice is all running and working on our fitness. We have the gaps in between. The others are more (detailed) workouts.”

Another tradition at Franklin Regional is making the WPIAL playoffs, something that did not occur last season when the Panthers went 7-9-2 and missed the Class 3A tournament.

“We’re not used to missing the playoffs,” Garland said.

The Panthers have only missed the postseason twice in 19 years. The other time was 2013.

“We played a lot of young girls last year out of necessity because we had so many injuries that affected us,” Garland said. “We had a lot of girls learn a lot and gain valuable minutes. We want to get back to winning.”

Franklin Regional lost four of its final six games and did not win more than two games in a row all season. While the Panthers controlled the time of possession in numerous games, they failed to convert on key chances.

Though Garland tries not to dwell on what-ifs after the injuries changed lineups and strategy, he knows how important it will be for the team to finish.

“We didn’t put the ball in the net enough,” Garland said. “That is something we have to do.”

The Panthers will build around a few all-section-caliber players in senior Victoria Rothrauff, a midfielder and Seton Hill commit, sophomore All-WPIAL goalkeeper Sydney Caldwell and sophomore midfielder Sydney Lindeman.

Rothrauff was the team’s leading scorer last season.

Other players with varsity time last season included now-seniors Olivia Dorsch and Bella Larese, and sophomores Sydney Kranick and Morgan Walters.

The Panthers lost five seniors, three of whom played key roles.

Caldwell shared time with Tiffany Jolayemi, who graduated. Caldwell, a third-year starter, will likely have the net to herself this season.

“Tiffany is a significant loss,” Garland said. “She was a force in net. Sydney played very well as a freshman.”

Garland said he is evaluating additional starters and backups. He likes the sophomore and freshmen classes, which should bode well for the program’s future.

Mars, Garland said, is the favorite again in Section 1-3A.

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

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