Penn Hills girls soccer team proud of progress

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Thursday, October 10, 2019 | 4:20 PM


Heading into the season, Penn Hills girls soccer coach Ashley DeVito wanted to see a continued progression with the team from previous years.

On the surface, that progress might be hard to see. The Indians, however, have made strides in DeVito’s fifth year as coach.

Penn Hills (4-11-1, 1-10) has earned one more win than last year with a couple of games remaining.

The Indians, who have been battling injuries and low numbers, have earned wins over McKeesport, Woodland Hills, Latrobe and Carrick. Penn Hills also played a scoreless tie with Gateway on Sept. 28.

In the four wins, the Indians outscored their opponents, 18-4.

“The injuries and the circumstances have been absolutely wild this year,” DeVito said. “There is so much that goes on behind the scenes that people don’t even realize when they look at scores in the paper.

“I would say we’re playing the best brand of soccer we’ve ever played. I’m excited to coach it, and the girls are excited to play it, and they are excited to watch it.”

The Indians were looking to replace goalkeeper Autumn Blair, who is now at Waynesburg, this season. DeVito was excited to see what sophomore Faith Petronio could do for the Indians, but she has missed a couple weeks due to getting her appendix removed.

DeVito has been forced to put different players in net due to injuries, but she doesn’t look at that as an excuse.

“Life happens and it’s part of the game,” DeVito said. “It’s not really what happens to you but how you respond to it. It hasn’t been an ideal situation for anybody. However, we can’t sit there and be upset about. All we can do is work hard and try to do better.”

The Indians play in a tough Section 3-AAAA, which includes teams such as Norwin and Penn-Trafford.

Even with the low numbers and injuries, DeVito has been very pleased with the team’s effort and the results show. Last year, the Indians lost to Penn-Trafford by scores of 9-0 and 6-0. This year, the Indians lost 4-0 and 1-0.

“To me, you can’t ask for anything more than that,” DeVito said. “I don’t expect to go to some of these places and win, but to see that huge improvement, that’s all you can ask for in a year’s time.”

Last year, the Indians were outscored, 73-19. This year, the Indians have been outscored, 56-22.

“The games are more competitive than they ever been,” DeVito said. “We’re competing and not going into games with the mindset of what the result is going to be before the game even starts.”

DeVito has been pleased by the continued development of junior TaMaya Wolford, who has been asked to play all over the field for the Indians.

“She has always been talented,” DeVito said. “But this year, her effort and workrate has taken her to a new level. She has really committed herself to giving 150% to all 80 minutes of every game.”

Senior midfielder Sierra Hankey has supplied the scoring punch for the Indians as she has recorded a hat trick three times this season.

“This might be the most proud I’ve been with a group of girls in my five years with the team simply because of their grit, work ethic and life skills that you want to instill as a coach into your players,” DeVito said.

“Naturally, I want to teach them how to dribble, pass and shoot, but at the end of the day, I want them to be good and strong people. I want to have lessons from soccer that will help them in their futures.”

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