Penn-Trafford girls soccer program a model of consistency

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Friday, November 1, 2019 | 6:37 PM


The Penn-Trafford girls soccer team is an annual WPIAL playoff qualifier.

It’s been a regular feature for the program since the start of the new millennium.

And the 2019 season was no different.

Penn-Trafford secured second place in Section 3-AAAA with a 10-2 record, lost a WPIAL first-round game to Pine-Richland, 3-0, and finished 12-7 overall.

“I am truly proud of my team this season,” said coach Jackie Bartko, a 2008 Penn-Trafford graduate. “Our expectations were to be a contender for a section title and a WPIAL championship and advance in the state playoffs. We didn’t achieve all the goals we set out to do, but we made a great run and had a few key victories we will always remember.”

The Warriors started 7-1 with six shutouts, then went 5-5 in the season’s second half.

Norwin (12-0) took first place in league play, followed by P-T, Connellsville (8-4) and Hempfield (5-6-1). P-T received the No. 6 seed for the playoffs and met No. 11 Pine-Richland in the first round.

The Warriors opened the season needing to replace Valparaiso recruit Kiley Dugan, the 2018 Tribune-Review Westmoreland Player of the Year.

Bartko welcomed eight returning starters to this year’s team, led by senior captains Megan Giesey (goalkeeper), Sarah Nguyen (midfielder), Emma Rain (midfielder/forward) and Haley Grunberg (defender).

Giesey, a four-year starter, was rated as one of the top goalies in Western Pennsylvania. She racked up 19 shutouts over the past two years, 38 for her career, and finished with 57 wins.

The other returning starters were senior Christina DeLuca (D), sophomore Malia Kearns (MF/F) and juniors Mackenzie Powell (MF) and Maria Sholtes (D).

Haley Hofmeister and Alexis Buzzard also were senior midfielders on this year’s squad.

Nguyen and Rain, who missed half of last season because of an ACL injury, were four-year starters along with Giesey.

“These girls have made such a huge impact throughout their four years,” Bartko said. “They have so much experience to offer everyone on the team. Their drive to win is truly amazing. They pushed every game to play their best and display 110% effort. They really helped to motivate the entire team.”

Several of the team members have made college commitments. They are Giesey (Pitt-Johnstown), Nguyen (Akron), Rain (Seton Hill), Grunberg (Barton) and Hofmeister (Aurora).

Kearns, with 13 goals, Nguyen (11) and Rain (10) were the Warriors’ leading scorers with 34 goals between them.

Penn-Trafford will have 19 of the 26 girls in the program back next season, including nine juniors — midfielders Alexa Wagner, McKenzie Septak, Sydney Marchand and Holly Harding and defenders Sydney Sullivan, Maya Roman and Taylor DeStefano as well as Powell and Sholtes.

The also were five sophomores — Ashley Broadwater (MF), Avery Hofmeister (MF), Taylor Jones (F), Taylor Lloyd (GK) and Kearns — and five freshmen — Maddy Fragola (MF), Fralley Panzo (MF), Mia Muro (D), Hannah Johnson (D) and Maddie Luchs (GK) — in the program this season.

Giesey, Nguyen, Kearns and Rain were lauded as All-WPIAL and first-team Big 56 all-stars. Grunberg also was a first-team Big 56 all-star. Roman was named to the second team, and DeLuca landed honorable mention status.

The early outlook for 2020 for the Warriors?

“Always striving to be our best,” Bartko said. “We are looking forward to next season to continue our quest for a section title, WPIAL championship and to advance in the state playoffs.”

“We have a lot of talented players to step into roles of our seniors who we will be losing.”

Kearns, Roman, Powell, Septak, DeStefano, Sullivan, Sholtes and Avery Hofmeister all were starters and/or key contributors this season and are expected to return in key roles next year.

Bartko owns a 68-24-3 career record and 46-8-2 section mark, with one section title, since taking over as coach in 2015. The Warriors won the WPIAL Class AAAA championship in 2017, finishing 17-4-1 that season.

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