Penn Hills midfielder Sierra Hankey headed to Washington & Jefferson

Thursday, January 23, 2020 | 5:54 PM

Last month, the Penn Hills girls soccer program saw midfielder Taylor Clayborn sign her letter of intent to attend Thiel. This month, midfielder Sierra Hankey announced she will attend Washington & Jefferson in the fall.

Although Hankey knew she was planning to attend W&J when Clayborn signed her letter of intent, she made it official when she put pen to paper Jan. 14.

“I think I realized I wanted to play soccer in college since my sophomore year. I started to go to visits in the middle of my junior year,” Hankey said. “I went to W&J and I really liked it there. I went to two overnights and went to two games. I really like it. I enjoyed everything about it and what it had to offer.”

Hankey, who will look to major in biology, took advantage of the recruitment process by visiting many different colleges. The list included Pitt-Johnstown, Allegheny, Westminster, Mansfield, Alderson Broaddus, Pace, Chatham and Bethany.

“It was definitely stressful since you want to find the perfect school for yourself. I wanted to open my eyes to as many different schools as possible in different areas,” Hankey said. “Going to see the different schools helped me decide what I wanted and what I didn’t want. I was just going with the flow.”

Hankey, who also plays for Century United FC, led the Indians (5-11-2, 1-10-1) with 11 goals last season.

During her junior season, Hankey led the team with six goals. Hankey scored seven goals as a sophomore.

Hankey’s journey with soccer is a little unusual as she started playing the game late at age 8. Hankey remembers when Clayborn asked her to come out to play with her in a recreation league.

After getting a taste of the game, Hankey and Clayborn teamed up on travel teams as their fathers were coaches for their team. Hankey’s father, Ryan, has been the Penn Hills’ boys soccer coach since 2016.

Hankey will be one the main recruits for Washington & Jefferson’s Kendra Jones, who was recently elevated to head coach after being the interim head coach for the 2019 season.

Last season, the Presidents went 6-9-3 overall with a 4-1-3 record in Presidents Athletic Conference play.

During the recruitment process, Hankey was told she’s coming in to provide some offensive punch immediately. Last season, the Presidents scored 23 goals and allowed 27.

“I’ve been talking to her a lot about their style of play and she has seen all of my videos and how I can jump right in to help with what they’re lacking in,” Hankey said. “They said they are lacking some offense and controlling of the game more. They said they see me helping them with that because I see myself as more of a playmaker.”

In recent years, Penn Hills coach Ashley DeVito has seen a couple of other players move on to play soccer at collegiate level, including goalkeeper Autumn Blair (Waynesburg) and defender Simone Glenn (LaRoche).


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