Plum’s Kaitlyn Killinger named 2022 Valley News Dispatch Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 4:29 PM

Kaitlyn Killinger works with a girl in her neighborhood, a member of the Plum youth soccer program, on several aspects of the game.

“She tells her mom all the time about me and how she looks up to me,” said Killinger, who recently completed a standout four-year varsity career with the Mustangs girls soccer team.

“It’s really nice to hear that and to know I have had an impact on her.”

Killinger said she was in that same spot, looking up to talented players in the Plum high school program and knowing one day she would have the chance to shine.

This fall, the Pitt recruit again shined as she scored a team-best 25 goals and added 12 assists for the Mustangs, who won their fourth straight section championship, advanced to the WPIAL semifinals for a fourth consecutive year and took part in the PIAA playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

Whether it was finding the back of the net or setting up a teammate, Killinger created unique challenges for opposing defenses.

In recognition of her accomplishments in her final varsity season, Killinger has been selected the Valley News Dispatch Girls Soccer Player of the Year for the second straight season.

“The last four years, how we made history, I am just so proud of the legacy I and my senior teammates will leave,” she said.

Killinger caps her four varsity seasons with 88 goals and 45 assists. She again was recognized with all-state honors by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association after being selected All-WPIAL.

“It was nice to score the goals I did, but it was a great feeling to help others score,” Killinger said.

“We had so much speed up top. We all wanted to do the best job we could to get a win. It wasn’t about personal stats. It was about the team and winning as many games as we could.”

Killinger said several wins, including the WPIAL quarterfinal victory over Montour and the third-place triumph over Latrobe, stand out when looking back on the season.

But preseason preparation, she said, was just as memorable.

“Everyone was so excited to be together, and there was so much energy and anticipation,” Killinger said.

“We had high expectations, and we worked hard to meet those expectations.”

Now, Killinger focuses her time in soccer on her Hotspurs winter season while also training with fellow senior Kaley Simqu for their freshman season at Pitt just eight months away.

“Certainly, Kaitlyn has been a tremendous part of the program’s success the past four years,” Plum coach Jamie Stewart said.

“This year, she had the opportunity to step up and be a captain. That was really good for her leadership. As a player, she’s grown so much just by looking at the number of assists. She set up a lot of goals with her unselfish play. She’s a super-talented player and a great kid. It is going to be exciting to watch her take that next step at Pitt.”

First-team all-stars

Lola Abraham, Jr., F, Riverview

The Pitt commit and All-WPIAL selection tallied 56 goals, including 14 over two games in one day, and helped the Raiders qualify for the playoffs for the second year in a row. She enters her senior season with a two-year total of 99 goals scored.

Grace Gent, Sr., F, Springdale

The All-WPIAL selection made her mark in several big games for the WPIAL runners-up, scoring 26 goals to go along with seven assists. She scored seven goals in the playoffs, including a hat trick in the semifinals.

Ali Hughes, Sr., MF/GK, Burrell

Whether she provided stability in the field or served her team in goal, the All-WPIAL selection tallied nine shutouts, including several in Section 2 play.

Miley Kariotis, So., MF/F, Burrell

She helped a stingy Burrell defense surrender just nine goals in 18 games and also led the team in scoring with 12 tallies. She earned Section 2 all-star honors.

Jordan Kirkwood, Sr., MF, Valley

The leading scorer for the Vikings with 19 goals, Kirkwood helped her team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and for only the second time in the program’s 20-year history.

Riley Koziatek, Sr., MF, Kiski Area

She scored twice in a must-win game against Indiana in the section finale to clinch a postseason berth. Koziatek finished with 16 goals and 12 assists and was voted a Section 1 all-star.

Aleah Parison, Sr., F, Freeport

Parison scored a team-best 13 goals while helping Freeport reach the WPIAL playoffs for a 10th consecutive year. She was picked to the All-WPIAL list for Class 2A.

Cam Rogers, Sr., F, Plum

Rogers scored 18 goals and added six assists. The Section 3-3A all-star scored Plum’s lone goal in a PIAA quarterfinal loss to Moon.

Briana Ross, So., F, Springdale

Also a first-team VND selection last year, Ross earned Section 1-A all-star honors after scoring 19 goals and adding a team-best 17 assists.

Kaley Simqu, Sr., D, Plum

The Pitt commit earned All-WPIAL and all-state recognition and was selected to the Moe Rosensteel Most Outstanding Player watch list. Plum surrendered just 17 goals.

Crystal Zembrzuski, Sr., F, Freeport

The Section 2 all-star finished with seven goals as Freeport won 14 games and fell just one point short of Knoch in the race for the Section 2-2A title.

Second team

Annabel Arhin, Sr., F, Plum

Natalie Beckes, Sr., D, Valley

Akina Boynton, Sr., M, Freeport

Molly Hurley, So., F, Springdale

Peyton Los, Fr., F, Freeport

Kylie McCoy, Jr., F, Deer Lakes

Maggie Nesko, So., MF, Burrell

Ashley Ross, Jr., MF, Springdale

Annabella Vergerio, Sr., MF, Deer Lakes

Ava Weleski, Jr., MF, Plum

Sophie Yard, Jr., F, Apollo-Ridge

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .

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