Quaker Valley girls soccer eager to gain experience

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 8:09 PM

Quaker Valley’s girls soccer team can’t wait to open the regular season.

The preseason has been productive for the Quakers, but they know the real tests come when the matches count in the standings.

“It is definitely a new team this year. There are only a few of us who have started together,” senior Sophie Besterman said. “We’re definitely progressing, and things are getting better. The team chemistry always has been there since we’re all good friends, but, as the season progresses, we’ll get better each game.”

Quaker Valley returns a handful of starters from last year’s squad that finished 9-9 when it lost to Deer Lakes, 2-1, in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. Senior Fiona Benge and junior Grace Shaner (outside backs) and junior goalkeeper Lily Johns are back on defense with juniors Maya Smith and Cami Womeldorf and Besterman (midfield) in the middle and up top.

“It’s a very competitive group. We are learning how to play as a group,” coach Jamie Birmingham said. “Everybody wants to play, and everybody has some experience but just not at the speed and intensity of the varsity level. So we’re focusing on catching up to the speed of our opponents and learning how to play as a unit.

“Every person has improved with their skills. It’s difficult to get everyone up to the speed of the varsity level without much time in the preseason. The only way to get up to speed is to play.”

The Quakers got their first tests in scrimmages against larger schools Moon and South Fayette.

“We really like playing those bigger schools,” Birmingham said. “Both teams pushed us hard.”

Gaining experience is important in the development of Quaker Valley’s younger players.

“It’s a great group to coach. They are intense and like to compete. They are there for each other, which is important, too.” Birmingham said. “All the spots are going to be competitive the next few years. I expect that young group to be pushing the varsity by midseason, which will be a good dynamic.”

The Quakers attended a team camp at Edinboro, which helped the squad heading into the fall.

“We’ve had a very intense and competitive preseason,” Birmingham said. “We have a lot of balance, so Quaker Valley is going to play like a team this year. It’s not going to be carried by any one or two players.”

The veteran players have been guiding the young players, too.

“We always support each other, and we want each other to get better,” Besterman said. “It’s hard not playing any varsity and then starting varsity. We help each other out whenever needed.”

Quaker Valley has seen some its hard work pay off and are excited for the process to continue.

“Everyone on our team is definitely really skilled and has potential,” Besterman said. “We definitely have a promising team. We’re just working on building and learning together. Each practice and game is a progression. All we can do is focus on getting better each day and go one step at a time.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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