Penn Hills girls to rely on team effort in quest for postseason berth

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Thursday, August 22, 2019 | 9:00 PM


Without a superstar on their roster, Penn Hills girls soccer coach Ashley DeVito will need a team effort to make the WPIAL playoffs this season.

Last season, the Indians (3-14, 2-10) missed the WPIAL playoffs after qualifying the previous two seasons. Penn Hills earned two wins over Latrobe and a win over Woodland Hills.

Penn Hills defeated the Wildcats, 3-1 and 1-0, in their two matchups, while defeating Woodland Hills, 6-1.

The Indians were outscored 73-19 and were shut out seven times last season.

In the early going, DeVito is excited to see the dedication and commitment shown from the members of the team.

“In order to be successful, it’s not going to take one or two girls. It’s going to take every single girl working for and with one another,” DeVito said.

“Whenever you’re playing against better teams and there are sometimes big challenges, you have a choice to give up on yourself and your teammates or you can stick together as a team and continue to push, persevere, learn from it and grow together. They have really dedicated themselves to work for and with one another.”

This season, the Indians will be led by senior midfielder Sierra Hankey and senior defender Dayvona Hogan. Hankey led the team with six goals last season.

Junior TaMaya Wolford returns after scoring five goals during her sophomore season, which earned her Section 3-4A honorable-mention honors.

“We have a very senior-heavy team this year. This is the first time that I’ve ever coached a team that is mostly upperclassmen,” DeVito said.

“It’s a big advantage because these girls have a ton of experience and they should be able to use that experience in big games to get better results.”

The biggest piece DeVito will replace this season is her goalkeeper. Sophomore Faith Petronio will step in for Autumn Blair, who now is at Waynesburg.

Blair was selected to the first team all-section team during her senior season, while earning honorable mention in her junior season.

“I’m very confident in the team. We’ve been practicing since indoor season. We’re a pretty senior-heavy team, and we have a lot of leadership. We’re pretty confident in our new goalkeeper. We’ve been practicing with her for two years,” Hogan said.

DeVito said confidence will play a major factor if the Indians are to have early-season success.

“It’s not just important for her but all of the girls to be super confident in all of their preparation that they’ve put in to get ready for the season,” DeVito said.

“They need to be confident in themselves, and they need to know it’s not always going to be perfect or easy but how you respond to adversity.”

Aside from an experienced team returning, DeVito now understands what is required to navigate a section that includes Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Connellsville and Hempfield, who all earned playoff bids last season.

Penn Hills will open the season at Plum in nonsection play at 12:30 p.m. Aug. 31. The Indians will then travel to McKeesport on Sept. 3 before opening section play against Connellsville, Penn-Trafford and Hempfield.

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