Plum’s Kaitlyn Killinger chosen as Valley News Dispatch Girls Soccer Player of the Year
Saturday, December 4, 2021 | 8:17 PM
The Plum girls soccer team surrendered two goals in a game just three times in the 2021 season.
One was in the WPIAL Class 3A championship game against Mars, and the other two came against Section 3 rival Oakland Catholic.
The second matchup between the Mustangs and Eagles, the section finale for both Oct. 14, saw Plum in a dogfight into overtime.
Kaitlyn Killinger already had both Plum goals in regulation. The junior forward made sure the game didn’t go in the books as a tie as she completed the hat trick in the extra time to give Plum a 3-2 win and keep its overall section winning streak alive at 34 games.
It was Killinger’s second hat trick in a season full of big moments. She finished the season with a team-best 30 goals and added 11 assists for a Mustangs squad that made history by winning its first PIAA playoff game — a 3-1 victory over Hollidaysburg — and advancing to the state semifinals for the first time.
“Kaitlyn is such a special player,” Plum coach Jamie Stewart said. “To put up the numbers that she did for us, it certainly was a remarkable achievement. One thing I will say is that Kaitlyn always is more focused on the team success than her own individual success. Her accomplishments are focused on how the team does.
“She enjoys scoring goals, but she enjoys the wins more, and that was evident in the playoffs. She had three goals, but she also had six assists. As we played these teams, especially in the WPIAL, they knew who the goal scorer was, and they targeted her and tried to shut her down. She had the heads-up ability to find her teammates and set them up for that success.”
Killinger, who again earned All-WPIAL honors, scored a goal and added an assist against Hollidaysburg, and she assisted on a goal in the 2-1 come-from-behind triumph over District 3 champion Mechanicsburg in the PIAA quarterfinals.
Mars’ defense surrendered just four goals all season en route to a repeat of WPIAL and PIAA championships. Killinger had one of those goals, a tally in the second half of the WPIAL title game, a 2-1 setback Nov. 6 at Highmark Stadium.
Killinger also was recognized with all-state honors from the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association.
She heads into her senior season with varsity totals of 63 goals and 33 assists.
Because of her accomplishments this season, Killinger has been selected the Valley News Dispatch Girls Soccer Player of the Year, edging out the likes of Deer Lakes senior forward Madeline Boulos and Springdale junior forward Grace Gent for the honor.
Killinger recently answered some questions about a season to remember.
What about this year’s team gave you the confidence that it could advance as far as it did this fall?
I have played many years with a lot of the players on this team. We started out in travel, then our club program and now high school. Then there are the other players I have become familiar with from playing with them for the last three years. Everyone seemed to know what the other was trying to do on the field, and we helped each other out. We worked hard every day at practice because we knew we had something special. We all felt we could go far, and when we needed a goal or a stop, someone always got it done.
What will you remember most about this record-breaking season for the Plum soccer team?
I will remember how we got to the state semifinal game. Winning those state playoff games was quite an accomplishment for this team and program. Knowing that we did something the girls soccer program has never done before, and it was our team, will be with us forever. We are a very proud team.
What was your favorite moment of the season, personally?
It would have to be our second Oakland Catholic game at home. Scoring the first two goals in regulation, and then having the game winner in double overtime has to be my personal favorite moment.
You scored 30 goals this season, but there were many other goal-scoring threats on the team. How fun was that creating headaches for opposing defenses?
It was fun for me because if things weren’t happening for me, like I was not getting the ball, someone else would be able to find a way to score. There is always someone else that can create for the team, and when that happens, the other team doesn’t know where the next goal is coming from.
Of those 30 goals, is there one or are there a couple that stand out to you the most, and why?
The second goal I scored against Oakland Catholic at home because it was one-timed into the net from right inside the 18. Also, I would say the Mars game in the WPIAL finals because it was the WPIAL final, and we never scored on them before. Finally, the Fox Chapel game at Fox Chapel was an overtime goal I scored. It was a great feeling.
Despite the outcomes, what was it like to go up against a team like Mars twice and take them to the limit both times?
I always like playing a team like Mars because they have a lot of talent. It’s nice to know that we could make it to the (state) semis and (WPIAL) finals against them. Competing with a team like Mars makes our team feel proud. However, it was also very frustrating to not win in those games.
With all of the talent coming back, do you feel this team can make yet another run next year? What gives you that confidence?
Yes, I think we can do it. We will still have a lot of our talent coming back. A good number of our goal scorers, defenders and midfield will be back. There are definitely a few spots we will need to fill, and hopefully, a few girls can step up.
Do you play any other sports at Plum?
I used to play basketball. I wish I could still be playing it now, but I wanted to focus all on soccer because I enjoy it more. I wanted to devote the time to get as good as I could physically and technically.
Who is your favorite soccer player, amateur or professional?
Neymar, definitely, because he has amazing skills. He also plays the wing, too, and it’s so much fun to watch him play and create on the field.
Describe the sibling sports rivalry between you and your brother, Nick. Is it pretty low key or highly competitive?
We were much more competitive when we were younger. Nick has always pushed me to be better at anything we did. We would play soccer in the backyard, and sometimes he would be the goalie I had to score on. He always made me want to score on him. We are very supportive of one another.
What are your thoughts on penalty-kick shootouts to find a winner in WPIAL and PIAA playoff games? Is it a necessary outcome after teams have played for so long, or would you like to keep playing until there is a winner?
I feel I would like to see the teams keep playing until there is a winner. I believe it’s not fair if you’re the better team, and you end up losing in a shootout because you were unable to score. However, with two overtime periods that should be long enough for a team to score, and you need to stop it somewhere.
What is your favorite subject in school?
I would say math. I enjoy being presented with a problem and having to find an answer to it.
Now that we are in the Christmas season, what is your favorite Christmas tradition?
My favorite Christmas tradition is probably hanging out with my family and making Christmas cookies with them. Then Christmas night, my cousins, uncle, aunt, and grandparents come over to eat dinner that my dad makes.
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?
Elf. I think it’s so funny, and I have enjoyed it since I was a little kid.
If you could have dinner with any three athletes or celebrities, living or dead, who would they be?
I think it would be interesting to have dinner with Kim and Khloe Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. They are all very successful, and very funny.
What is something interesting that nobody knows about you?
I love to ski. My good friend Cami got me into skiing a few years ago. We always go up to Hidden Valley or Seven Springs to ski together. It’s one of my favorite things to do.
Riverview, So., F
As the Raiders returned to competition this fall, Abraham shined in her varsity debut. She got on a roll and stayed there to the tune of 43 goals, which ranked near the top of the WPIAL goal-scoring list. Her efforts earned her All-WPIAL recognition.
Deer Lakes , Sr., F
The multi-time All-WPIAL selection scored a team-best 25 goals and added 15 assists for a Lancers squad that finished 10-8 overall and was runner-up in Section 2-2A with a 7-3 mark. Boulos, the VND Player of the Year as a freshman, finished her varsity career with 104 goals.
Freeport, Sr., MF
The Yellowjackets veteran performer scored a team-leading eight goals and earned All-WPIAL recognition as Freeport secured its ninth consecutive berth to the WPIAL playoffs. She also was a VND first-team all-star in 2020.
Springdale, Jr., F
Gent scored five goals in an early-season victory over Deer Lakes, and she didn’t let up from there. She scored a team-best 24 goals and added 10 assists for a Springdale team that advanced to the WPIAL Class A semifinals. Gent earned All-WPIAL honors.
Plum, Sr., MF/F
The Point Park commit capped her career with 18 goals and seven assists to help Plum to a 21-3-1 record, a WPIAL runner-up finish and its second PIAA appearance in three years. She was one of three Mustangs players to pick up All-WPIAL laurels.
Deer Lakes, Sr., F
McAdams combined with Boulos to form a lethal one-two punch in the Deer Lakes offense. The All-WPIAL honoree collected 23 goals and added 11 assists for a Deer Lakes squad that qualified for the WPIAL playoffs for the fifth straight season.
Fox Chapel, Jr., MF
The Foxes’ leader in the midfield helped her team place third in a competitive Section 3 in 4A and reach the WPIAL semifinals. She scored five goals and was recognized for her offensive and defensive efforts with All-WPIAL selection.
Burrell, Sr., MF
A steadying veteran presence for the Bucs this fall, Postupak helped Burrell keep pace in Section 2-2A and overall with her play in generating offense and protecting the defensive side of the ball.
Knoch, So., F
Robb followed a strong freshman season with no sophomore slump. She paced the Knights with a team-best 10 goals and added three assists. Her efforts were lauded with All-WPIAL selection.
Springdale, Fr., F/MF
Ross had 20-20 vision for the Dynamos in their run to the WPIAL Class A semifinals. She made her varsity debut in a big way with 20 goals and 20 assists for a Springdale squad that went 18-3 overall and finished tied with Greensburg Central Catholic for the Section 1 title.
Plum, Sr., D
Simqu was a stalwart in the back for the Mustangs in their run in the regular season and playoffs. She helped Plum surrender just 14 goals through 25 games (21-3-1). Her season was celebrated with All-WPIAL selection and a spot on the PA Soccer Coaches Association all-state list.
Faith Andree, Kiski Area, Sr., D/MF
Carlee Barnett, Fox Chapel, Sr., D
Leah Brockett, Burrell, So., MF/F
Paige Crawford, Apollo-Ridge, Fr., F
Lily Iadicicco, Springdale, Sr., MF/F
Jordan Kirkwood, Valley, Jr., MF
Molly McNaughton, Fox Chapel, Jr., GK
Aleah Parison, Freeport, Jr., F
Cam Rogers, Plum, Jr., D/MF
Isabella Walsh, Springdale, Sr., MF
Ava Weleski, Plum, So., MF
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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