Freeport girls soccer off to strong start despite heavy graduation losses

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023 | 8:51 PM


The Freeport girls soccer team earned a WPIAL playoff berth last year for the 10th season in a row. Only Plum, with 11, has a longer streak in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

The Yellowjackets lost eight seniors from a team that finished second in a competitive Section 2-2A with 10 victories, garnered 14 wins overall and qualified for the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals before losing to No. 2 Mt. Pleasant.

Despite the voids left by graduation, coach Joe Treglia said there is a standard of consistency in winning in the program, and this year’s group is off to a strong start. Freeport upped its record to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in Section 2-2A with an 8-2 victory over Apollo-Ridge on Monday.

“It’s definitely super exciting for such a young team to be where we are early in the season,” senior co-captain and defender Ava Slaugenhaupt said. “There definitely were some big shoes to fill from last year, but, honestly, we worked a lot in the offseason on team bonding and coming together on the field. It’s nice to see all that preparation and effort flourish.”

Said Treglia: “We knew there were some unknowns coming into the season, but we did our best to try and answer some of those in preseason workouts and the first couple of games. I think the pieces continue to fall into place, and we are playing good soccer right now.

“It’s not perfect, but the returning girls and some new girls, including some freshmen, have come in and picked up where that senior class left off. Every game we learn more about the girls and this team overall.”

Freeport is no stranger to competitive matchups in Section 2-2A. Last year, more than a dozen section games were decided by one goal in regulation or overtime, and a few others ended in a tie.

The Yellowjackets started section play Aug. 31 with a 3-1 win over Deer Lakes and put that 1-0 mark on the line at Burrell last week.

Freeport led 2-0 midway through the second half on goals from sophomore Peyton Los and freshman Camryn Woods. The Bucs got one back on a penalty kick and made one final mad rush — aided by several corner kicks — to try to tie the score.

But the Yellowjackets, led by the defense and by the goalkeeping of sophomore first-year starter Alyssa Alcorn, turned away some dangerous chances to hold on to a 2-1 victory.

“I think it just came down to our team chemistry and being able to stay calm and play the way we know we could,” Slaugenhaupt said. “We were able to compose ourselves while Burrell was getting a little desperate knowing they needed to score to tie the game. We concentrated on taking it play by play.

“It felt like the time was going so slow. But it also was just so exciting because in those moments in that environment is when play your best and step up to that challenge.”

For the seniors — including Slaugenhaupt and fellow captain Lorelei Buterbaugh — it was their first win at Burrell in their fourth attempt.

“The section, so far, has shown a lot of the girls what it is going to take to challenge for the section title and make a strong run to the playoffs,” Buterbaugh said. “This section prepares us so well for the playoffs.

“Varsity soccer is such a big step up from middle school, and the younger players are getting more and more comfortable with playing at this level and make a difference in games.”

Los again is making a difference as she works to build off of a strong freshman campaign that saw her score seven goals, lead the team with nine assists and earn all-section recognition.

“The first year at the varsity level is eye-opening for a lot of kids,” Treglia said. “The game is faster and sometimes more physical. She has a whole season of games under her belt. She’s playing a different position this year and is controlling the ball, controlling the midfield and setting up a lot of plays up top. She does a great job connecting the defense to the forwards.”

Woods has exploded onto the scene with 12 goals in her first five varsity games. She scored a season-best four in a 5-1 win over Central Valley in the Yellowjackets’ second game of the Freeport tournament.

“Camryn is playing great soccer,” Treglia said. “There is a lot of cohesion out there, and the girls are connecting very well. That helps her be more confident and aggressive to where she can make plays and finish.”

In Monday’s win over Apollo-Ridge, the Yellowjackets got a hat trick from Woods, three more goals from junior forward Samantha Liput and single tallies from junior midfielder/defender Addy Kristofik and sophomore forward Nia DiSanti.

The Yellowjackets hope to keep rolling Wednesday at Valley in a section matchup before the first clash with defending section champion Knoch (3-2, 2-0) at home Monday.

“We always talk about not getting too high or too low, just maintaining focus and a positive attitude,” Slaugenhaupt said. “Yes, we’ve started out the way we hoped, but there are a lot of games to be played. Coach is always stressing to us that we haven’t accomplished anything yet, and we have to focus on one game at a time.

“We do have some big ones coming up. We just want to continue to build each other up and be ready to play our best games to meet those challenges.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.

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