Pine-Richland girls soccer players show growth on, off the field

Sunday, October 31, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Success was measured both on the pitch and off for the Pine-Richland girls soccer program this season, one that saw the Rams finish 5-10 after a WPIAL first-round playoff exit at the hands of No. 6 Peters Township on Oct. 25.

After graduating long-time goalkeeper Katherine Kelly and midfielder Megan Donnelly, who’s now at Villanova, and losing three would-be key players from the team that focused this fall on recruitment and camps, the Rams thought they may need to temper their expectations a little bit, with some younger players stepping into bigger roles.

But Rachelle Dixon, in her second year at the helm of the program, kept the goals lofty enough.

“We were proud of the experience the younger players got in their opportunity to step up into bigger roles,” Dixon said. “We knew that success might look a little bit different this year. Our goal was to make the playoffs and that’s something we kept going back to, but we had success in other ways too.”

The Rams junior varsity and varsity teams gathered Oct. 24 to present a $1,000 check to the Glimmer of Hope Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based advocacy group dedicated to fighting breast cancer.

Every year, the program has a fundraising game where the players purchase t-shirts and the program sells t-shirts and then goes into the community for donations and such.

The donation this year was made in honor of MaryLou Shenot, a well-known alumna of Pine-Richland.

“That was one of the biggest successes we had this season,” Dixon said. “To give back to the community and raise awareness is something that’s important to us.”

Dixon also said they tried to build their culture throughout by coming together to support two middle-school players who had season-ending injuries.

“We also talked about watching these players who came into roles they had never been in before step into those,” Dixon said. “It’s a great group of girls. They want to help and serve, not just the program but the community. It’s been fun to watch.”

On the pitch, the Rams could get back, potentially, any combination of the three players in Ava Boyd, Stephanie Cornelius and Gianna Koss who didn’t play this year, but they will graduate five starters from this year’s team: Jaclyn Murray, Rachel Bashe, Jennifer Betush, Mary Fannie and Elena Carlson.

Leading scorers Manon Prokesch and Madison Zavasky should return as well.

“We have told the girls we’re here, as coaches, to support them in any way we can,” Dixon said. “We have some great players coming in that are hungry to get better. We’re excited about them, potential players we can get back and the players who got more experience this year. We’re just excited.”

Read more about the check presentation to the Glimmer of Hope Foundation here.


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