Freshmen provide spark for emerging Mt. Pleasant girls soccer team

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Monday, September 13, 2021 | 5:51 PM


A wide-eyed bunch of freshmen are eager to make Mt. Pleasant a WPIAL contender in girls soccer.

But don’t expect them to wait to make their mark. They are hungry now, ravenous and ready to soak up every crumb of game experience that comes their way.

Four freshmen started in the second game of the season when the Vikings (4-1) dumped Penn Hills, 4-1. Three are now regular starters. Call them the Killer B’s: Rylin Bugosh, Maddie Barrick and Adi Belanger are scoring threats who bring cup-level ability to the Vikings.

Freshmen sometimes need an adjustment period to get used to the pace of the varsity game while learning to play with upperclassmen.

For this crop of youngsters, the transition has been swift.

“They came in and lit a fire under some of our older girls,” Mt. Pleasant coach Rich Garland said. “I knew they could come in and compete.”

But this fast?

“Yes,” Belanger said emphatically. “From our upper classes and lower classes, we have a very skilled group. Our teammates have made it very easy for us.”

In the season opener, a 6-0 win over South Allegheny, three freshmen did all the scoring for Mt. Pleasant. Bugosh had a hat trick, Belanger scored twice and Barrick added a goal.

Bugosh scored twice, and junior Marissa Garn and Barrick had one score apiece against Penn Hills.

Belanger, a midfielder who also can shift to defense, and Barrick, a pure midfielder whose No. 71 already makes her stand out, play on the same Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy 07 East cup team.

“We’ve played together since kindersoccer,” Barrick said. “We have been playing together our whole lives. We all like to work hard and get better.”

Bugosh could be the best of the bunch. This isn’t basketball, but she is the closest thing the Vikings have to a power forward.

“She’s so strong and physical,” Garland said. “She reminds me of Mackenzie Leeder, the best player I have coached. With her, she was intimidating to everyone on the field. Other kids would take a step back. That’s how it can be with Rylin.”

The other ninth grade players are midfielder/forward Nina Province and backup goalkeeper Gigi Stanek.

Garland said the freshmen allow his team to play the way he prefers to coach it, stylistically speaking.

“We want to possess the ball and play into space,” he said. “Playing that way requires a certain level of skill. The girls have to understand the tactics behind it. They’re starting to get it.”

And that could be a problem for opponents of the Vikings, who will compete in a packed Section 3-2A with Southmoreland, Yough, McGuffey, Waynesburg and Brownsville.

“It’s nice when you have 21 kids committed to the same purpose,” Garland said.

Mt. Pleasant dropped a 1-0 decision at Burrell in a game Garland said described as “beautifully played,” before returning home to thump Ligonier Valley, 9-0. Sophomore Riley Gesinski had a hat trick, senior Carsyn Rivardo and Garn added two goals each, and junior Sophia Gonofsky and Carly Kapr added a goal each.

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

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