Penn-Trafford girls soccer team plays through challenging season

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Saturday, October 24, 2020 | 11:01 AM


It has been a challenging and unusual season for the Penn-Trafford girls soccer team.

The team was hit hard by graduation, they were placed in a different section, they have a new coach, and they had to deal with a pandemic.

Penn-Trafford finished the regular season with a 5-5-2 record and qualified for the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs. The Warriors were set to face Seneca Valley (7-3) in the first round.

While things haven’t gone as planned for first-year coach Jim Mastroianni, when he addressed the team last week, he told them this is a new season and they’ve been in this situation before.

Penn-Trafford’s season got off on the wrong foot against Fox Chapel. The Warriors jumped out to an early lead, but mistakes cost them and Fox Chapel rallied for a 4-3 victory.

“It’s not the results we had planned,” Mastroianni said. “We graduated a lot of talented seniors, and we had some holes to fill and a new formation to play. They’ve been getting better all season.

“We’re just not making enough key plays at crucial times. We got off track a little coming down the stretch.”

The Warriors dropped three consecutive close matches and were involved in three consecutive overtime matches. Two resulted in ties.

Mastroianni was also hired late after previous coach Jackie Bartko decided to step down for family reasons. Because of the pandemic, he was unable to meet with the girls in person.

“We had a shortened camp,” said Mastroianni, who coached the Penn-Trafford club teams and played for late Penn-Trafford coach David Paterline. “We met with them for three days before they started school. We’ve had our challenges, but we can’t use covid-19 as a crutch. These girls have played a lot of soccer, so it’s taken some time to adjust.”

Junior midfielder/forward Malia Kearns and senior forward McKenzie Septak are the leading scorers for the Warriors.

“Malia is a phenomenal player,” Mastroianni said. “She’s creative, and we’re fortunate to have someone like her. McKenzie is another solid player.”

Mastroianni also spoke highly of midfielder MacKenzie Powell, junior goalkeeper Taylor Lloyd, junior defender Taylor Jones and senior defenders Maya Roman, Taylor DeStefano and Maria Sholtes.

“Our defense keeps us in a lot of games,” Mastroianni said. “They’ve been playing well and have steadily improved.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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