Freeport girls coach frustrated by up-and-down season
Monday, March 7, 2022 | 11:50 AM
The exasperation in Fred Soilis’s voice is palpable.
Following his seventh season leading the Freeport girls basketball team, Soilis is left with a number of questions about what exactly went wrong.
“I think it was the most difficult, challenging season of my seven seasons in coaching,” he said. “After dealing with the pandemic obstacles last year, we had high hopes coming into the year with four returning starters coming back.
“But then, different forms of adversity struck, some of which was either imposed or self-inflicted.”
Freeport rode a roller-coaster to a 7-12 record with a 6-6 mark in Section 1-4A.
One of those imposed issues was the loss of the team’s lone senior, Leah Hartman, who went out of the starting lineup with a knee injury after four games.
“The self-imposed stuff was that we were inconsistent in our play, our effort, drama,” Soilis said. “It was very frustrating because I think we have the talent and the tools to be competitive and do better than we did. Unfortunately it just didn’t pan out that way.
“I think they just don’t understand that they don’t get a chance to replay this season. You get a certain time period, and you’re done. You can’t re-do it.”
One particular barb in the frustration of the season was a bevy of close losses. The Yellowjackets fell in five games by five points or less.
“We knew that (section foes) Highlands and Knoch were going to be our main competition,” Soilis said. We knew there was a possibility that we’d lose to both of those teams, and that would put us at 8-4. But I didn’t expect to be 6-6 in section play.”
Soilis was encouraged by the start to the season. Freeport played tough against a pair of Class 5A schools in Plum and Fox Chapel, taking the Foxes to overtime before eventually falling. The Yellowjackets then came back with a win over Shady Side Academy and a section triumph against Deer Lakes.
“We were playing well,” Soilis said “But it’s just frustrating that we just weren’t able to complete and have the season that everyone expected us to have.”
Throughout the year, the Yellowjackets got fairly consistent scoring efforts from juniors Melaina DeZort and Ava Soilis, Fred Soilis’ daughter. And Fred Soilis was, at times, encouraged by the play of the entire group.
“I thought we played aggressively defensively,” he said. “We got after it. We lost to (eventual section champion) Knoch, the second time around, by three points … We were aggressive in every phase of the game. When we were doing things well, we were rebounding, causing turnovers and havoc.
“But then people start worrying about who is taking shots and who is scoring. So that just leads to internal division, and that trickles down to other stuff.”
With only losing one senior, and one who made minimal impact because of injury, Soilis could have the makings of a more veteran, experienced team. That’s if things can come together internally.
“I ask myself what’s going to change,” Soilis said. “I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question. That’s what I’m racking my brain about. Should there be a change in the coach? Should I step down? Maybe they’ll play better, I don’t know.
“I’ve got a daughter on the team. Is that the reason? I don’t know. It’s something I’ve been struggling with since mid-December. It’s not a good environment right now. I’m sort of relieved the season is over.”
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