Monessen girls soccer making important strides

Saturday, August 26, 2017 | 6:54 PM

At first glance, a 4-12 record might not have given the Monessen girls soccer team reason to celebrate last season.

Considering the Greyhounds went 1-67-1 from 2012-15, it was an important and necessary component of building a more successful program.

The key for coach Bill Halinka and his team as they head into this season is improving on last year's results.

“Last season was a nice little building block for us. That's what I told the girls. That it's something we can build on,” Halinka said.

“We've got five returning starters from last year, but we lost the girls that did the bulk of our scoring for us. Goaltending, we'll be fine. Defense, we'll be fine. We just have to work on our goal scoring this year.”

While goal prevention might be a strong suit for Monessen, putting the ball in the back of the net might prove challenging. Freshmen Sydney Caterino and Aubrey Rhome are tasked with the challenge as the Greyhounds' forwards.

The pair of first-year starters have the ability to finish, Halinka said. Getting them open looks is key.

“Since they're both freshman, I do expect them to get better as the year goes by,” Halinka said. “For now, it's a matter of how they handle the defensive pressure they'll be seeing at the varsity level.

“If we can move the ball into opponents' ends, then I think they'll be scoring a few goals for us. It's just a matter of moving the ball downfield to set them up.”

Fortunately for the Greyhounds, Section 2-A foes might have trouble scoring on senior goalkeeper Destiny Habeck, an all-section performer last season.

Carlee Evans leads a durable defense.

“Destiny was great for us last year, and it's big to have her coming back,” Halinka said. “I expect her to be vocal as a leader and help out the girls in front of her.

“We're going to do well if we can keep it to a low-scoring game against other teams. We'll be able to beat a lot of teams if we can score. I expect us to be in the mix for all of our games though.”

A few questions remain as Monessen pieces together its young roster. An important reason for optimism is the Greyhounds' approach to the mental aspect of the game.

“They're out there competing, and I really think we're improving. I always preach to them to practice the way they play. If you want good things to happen in the game, you have to do them the right way in practice first, and they get that,” the fifth-year coach said.

“We'll compete. We'll come to every game ready to play. I know they're going to put their best out there for us.”

Monessen will kick off section play at 11 a.m. on September 9 at home against Bishop Canevin.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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