Plum girls soccer reaches section championship goal
Friday, October 18, 2019 | 5:33 PM
What can Plum coach Jamie Stewart do for an encore?
Stewart, in his first season coaching at Plum, guided the girls soccer team to a section championship and an impressive 14-1-1 regular-season record.
“We set goals for the team at the beginning of the year, most having to do with being a team and supporting each other,” Stewart said. “I’m extremely pleased the way the girls have come together and are focused on team success, not just their individual success.The amount of unselfish play has been great to see.”
Plum and Oakland Catholic tied for first place in Section 3-AAA with 11-1 records. The two teams split their season series.
“Being co-champion of our section was a goal that took a lot of dedication and hard work,” Stewart said. “We have talked about our team goals before every game and during practice sessions. I believe this is important to continue to remind the girls of the goals they set for the team.”
The Mustangs, who landed the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs, ran off an 11-game winning streak in the second half of their schedule.
Plum hosted No. 15 Gateway last week in the first round of the playoffs. The Plum-Gateway winner was set to meet the winner of the 7-10 matchup between Hampton and Elizabeth Forward on Thursday, Oct. 24.
“The girls have had an excellent season,” Stewart said. “I’ve been proud of the effort the girls have put in this season. It is always nice to see the hard work pay off with results on the field.
“There have been moments that could have been distractions to our goals. We have had a few injuries which could have hurt us. However, we are fortunate to have depth that allowed other players an opportunity to step in and keep the level of play.”
The Mustangs racked up an 87-12 overall scoring advantage and were led by a balanced offense with four girls in double figures in goals scored.
Freshman midfielder/forward Kaitlyn Killinger led the way with team-high totals of 16 goals and nine assists. Junior midfielder/forward Gina Proviano contributed 13 goals and seven assists, and sophomore forward/midfielder Marissa Liberto and junior defender/midfielder Jamie Seneca added 10 goals apiece.
Emily Kirkpatrick, a junior midfielder, was credited with eight assists. Kirkpatrick, Proviano and Katie Patton, a senior defender, shared the team’s captain role this season.
Junior goalkeepers Erica Taylor and Kelly Kvortek have split playing time in net, posting eight shutouts between them.
Other players in the starting lineup, on defense, were juniors Andrea D’Incau and Sam Stewart, senior Laura Pearlman and freshman Kaley Simqu. D’Incau and Simqu also are listed as midfielders.
Senior forward Hannah Odom, a Penn State-Harrisburg commit, has been out with a season-ending injury.
Plum did not surrender a single goal in the first half of October, blanking Thomas Jefferson (4-0), West Mifflin (6-0), Trinity (8-0) and Woodland Hills (9-0).
Killinger netted Plum’s only goal Oct. 16 — off a Seneca assist — in a 1-1 season-ending tie at home against Hampton.
Along with the eight blank sheets, the Mustangs allowed just one goal to six opponents.
Stewart, employed as an information technology manager at a large company in Pittsburgh, was a volunteer assistant at Gateway for four seasons, and has coached various youth soccer levels for 17 years.
His assistant at Plum is Amanda Zimmerman. Dr. Javier Gomez-Calderon, Bob Kovach and Chris Spudich serve as volunteer assistants.
“My coaching philosophy is to help develop the girls as soccer players but also as young ladies,” Stewart said. “I am a firm believer in creating an environment that prepares them for each situation and helps them learn from each situation. These lessons apply both to the soccer field and in life.”
Stewart took over as field boss for Caitlin Schuchert, who resigned following the 2018 season. Plum finished 12-7 last year and made a first-round playoff appearance.
Prior to the playoffs, Stewart said: “I am excited for the next step in the season and for the team to have an opportunity to compete in the playoffs. The girls came into camp frustrated by their exit from the playoffs last year in the first round.”