Midseason winning streak gets Penn Hills girls soccer back on the right foot

Sunday, October 11, 2020 | 11:01 AM

After getting off to a slow start, the Penn Hills girls soccer team righted the ship with four consecutive wins to get back into the WPIAL playoff race.

The Indians outscored their opponents 18-3 during the four game-winning streak. Most importantly, three of the wins came in Section 3-AAA action as Penn Hills looks to return to the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2017.

The streak began with a 4-0 win over Woodland Hills in section play Sept. 26 followed by a close 3-2 win over Obama Academy on Sept. 29. The third section win happened with a 9-1 victory over Brashear on Oct. 1. The Indians also beat McKeesport, 2-0, in nonsection play on Oct. 3.

“I’m thrilled with how the year has gone so far,” coach Ashley DeVito said. “I don’t think I’ve had a strong start like this in the six years I’ve been coach.

“The girls are thrilled and super motivated. They’ve gotten a taste of success, so they’ve been hungry for more.”

DeVito points to the Indians’ balanced scoring this season as they have eight players scoring a goal and only one player with multiple goals in a game.

Senior forward Maya Wofford leads the team with seven goals, while freshman center midfielder Caroline McDevitt is second on the team with five.

Wofford scored both goals for the Indians in an early season 2-1 win over Hempfield in nonsection play Sept. 19.

“Having other people to help score makes it easier on me,” Wofford said. “Most of the teams that we play already know how I play, so they double up on me all the time. Having help and knowing I don’t have to do everything relieves a lot of stress on me.”

Along with the strong play in the middle by McDevitt, DeVito has been pleased with the how freshman defender Kali Booker has settled in to help lead the backline for the Indians.

“Whenever you put freshmen in high-pressure positions, you never know what is going to happen,” DeVito said. “I think in the first few games, they were a little shell shocked. Now that they are accustomed to playing at this level, they’ve been absolutely phenomenal.”

Before the season, the Indians knew it was going to be tough to compete against the top teams in their section — Plum, Oakland Catholic and Thomas Jefferson. Before the start of the winning streak, the Indians were shut out in back-to-back section games against Thomas Jefferson and Plum.

DeVito was proud of her team’s ability to refocus after the two losses and have the success they are having now.

“Right now, we’re beating the teams we’re supposed to be beating,” DeVito said. “There are a lot of times that teams go out and they lose games that they think they should’ve won. It takes a lot of focus and a lot of guts and heart to make sure you don’t drop the ball in those games and you go out and get the job done.”

After rematches with Plum, Oakland Catholic, Thomas Jefferson, Obama Academy and Woodland Hills, the Indians will finish the season against Brashear on Oct. 17.

“For us to make it back (to the playoffs) would be absolutely huge,” DeVito said. “In the playoffs, everything is different. The whole school and the community are invested. I would love the girls to get that feeling of bringing such pride to your school and community.

“Right now, we’re taking it game by game and looking to perform to the best of our ability each day.”


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