From 2 wins to reaching the state playoffs, Latrobe girls soccer team reflects on success

Sunday, November 20, 2022 | 1:09 PM

The Latrobe girls soccer team had a historic season, winning the first two WPIAL playoff games in program history and qualifying for the state tournament for the first time.

It was a year of major accomplishments, but the feeling around the program is that they are just getting started.

“We just had our last fun practice of the season (last week), and I told the girls how unbelievably proud myself and the rest of the coaches are of what they did,” Latrobe coach Jamie Morrison said. “We’re a really young team. Our average starter age is a sophomore.

“We were led by a few outstanding seniors Sofia DeCerb, Chloe Boyette and Makenna Malone. They had unbelievable heart and never quit. It’s every single player from our JV players up to varsity. We’re a small team. We had 12 varsity players throughout the entire season and it was truly a team effort.

“It’s been a great ride. When this year’s senior class were freshmen, they won two games. So to go from there to now, setting records and getting into the state playoffs is pretty outstanding.”

The Wildcats finished 12-5-2 and made the WPIAL semifinals with wins over Ringgold, 6-1, in the first round and 3-0 at Thomas Jefferson in the quarterfinals. The district run came to an end with a 4-1 loss against perennial power Mars in the semifinals, but they qualified for the state tournament and ended up getting matched up with WPIAL champion Moon in the first round.

The Wildcats played even with Moon and were tied 0-0 at halftime, but the Tigers got a pair of second-half goals to advance.

“It was a learning experience to see what it takes to make a long postseason run,” Morrison said. “It’s always sad when a season has to end, but we competed with the best under playoff conditions with the highest intensity that the game is going to bring. In my opinion we were in every single game, even the ones we lost. These girls can play with anyone they come up against. When they play as a group, they play such a beautiful game.”

Latrobe got the ball rolling in 2021 when it won its first section title since 1992, but Morrison said there were key graduates from that team, so this year’s group had to find their identity.

Once they did, they reeled off an impressive stretch, going 9-0-1 to close the regular season.

They did so with many underclassmen filling key roles. Ella Bulava, a two-time All-WPIAL player, will return as well as leading scorer Regan Reilly with 19 goals and Robin Reilly, who finished one goal behind her older sister with 18 and was the team leader in assists with 13.

Bulava is a Maryland commit and Regan Reilly is committed to Bowling Green.

Annalyse Bauer had a strong freshman season with 12 goals. Along with the goals, she showed adaptability moving around the attacking third from center midfield, her natural position, to striker and outside midfield.

Ava Yurko, a sophomore defender who missed most of the season with an ACL injury, will return. Morrison described Yurko as a physical beast that will boost the backline.

DeCerb, a James Madison recruit, will be a loss for the Wildcats in net. She had 10 shutouts and, along with fellow seniors Boyette and Malone, was a team-leader.

“We’re losing a couple key seniors that have been major parts to raising the level of the program to where it is today, but we still have so much talent that are underclassmen,” Morrison said. “The future is really bright for these Wildcats.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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