Quaker Valley girls soccer poised for postseason return

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Sunday, September 19, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Quaker Valley’s soccer teams were absent from the WPIAL playoffs last season because of coronavirus protocols.

After a covid-19 outbreak in the district last fall, QV’s athletic seasons were shut down.

The QV girls finished fourth in Section 1-2A after going 3-5-2 in league play and 3-7-2 overall. The Quakers had advanced to the playoffs the previous four years.

Jamie Birmingham stepped aside as coach after the season, leading to a unique situation for the Quakers this year.

Birmingham assistants Maggie Behun, a Quaker Valley graduate, and Rachel Loudermilk, a Columbus, Ohio, native, were hired as co-head coaches.

Together, the duo carved out its first win Sept. 8 in a 1-0 victory against Ambridge, which was followed by a 0-0 tie against West Allegheny. Through five matches, the Quakers were 1-1 in the section and 1-3-1 overall.

“We have been pleasantly surprised with the pride and poise of this year’s squad,” Behun said. “Coming off a very tough year due to the pandemic, losing the majority of our starters, a head coach change, and a not-so-ideal end to the 2020 season due to covid, the upperclassmen have come together and stepped up to the plate. They are anxious and ready to win, and we’re right there on the sideline with them.”

Quaker Valley opened the 2021 campaign with 32 girls on its roster: six seniors, 10 juniors, six sophomores and 10 freshmen.

“Our goal this season is to advance the QV girls soccer program to it’s true potential,” Loudermilk said. “We have a small senior class bringing a lot of leadership and camaraderie. Coupled with that small but mighty class, we have a good number of underclassmen who are eager to establish their role(s).

“‘Accountability, trust, respect and teamwork’ is our motto. We work hard, and we play hard.”

Forward Chase Kriebel, midfielder Eleanor Burns, midfielder/defender Anna Licastro and defender Clare Elste are senior co-captains.

Two other seniors on the team are midfielder/forward Bella Benge and forward Zea Juarez-Safran.

QV’s starting lineup early in the year included Kriebel, Burns, Licasto, Elste, junior midfielders Nikita Venkatasamy and Keira Currier, junior M/F Tia Pethel, freshmen Mia Modrovich and Anna Hanley and junior Nora Johns at midfield, sophomore defenders Mia Strelec and Megan Campbell, and junior goalkeeper Anjo Pagbeleguem. Kriebel, Elste, Johns and Pagbeleguem also were starters a year ago.

The Quakers coaches were familiar figures in the program before the 2021 season.

Behun was an assistant for eight years at QV under Michael Pastor and Birmingham. Loudermilk is in her fourth year coaching in the QV program. Both enjoyed successful playing careers.

A 2009 QV graduate, Behun was a four-year starter as a midfielder and two-time captain in high school. She then went on to play defense at The College of Wooster, but saw her career was cut short after two years because of a torn ACL.

Loudermilk was a four-year letterwinner, senior captain and an all-district selection at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus. She played Division I soccer for four years as a midfielder at Butler.

She was named tournament MVP at the South Alabama Invitational.

Loudermilk relocated to the Sewickley area in 2016.

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