Return of rivalries energizes Penn Hills girls soccer program

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Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 10:12 PM


The Penn Hills girls soccer program is optimistic heading into the season as the Indians look to see how their mix of seasoned veterans with an influx of young talent will fare against new competition.

The Indians, who finished with 5-11-2 overall and 1-10-1 in Section 3-AAAA last season, will drop to Class AAA and compete in Section 3.

Last season, the Indians finished on a strong note, going 2-2-1 in their final five games.

Penn Hills will face off against Plum, the WPIAL Class AAA runner up, and Oakland Catholic and Thomas Jefferson, a pair of WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinalists last season. The Indians also will face Obama Academy, Woodland Hills and Brashear.

“I’m really excited to play at AAA and play teams I grew up playing,” coach Ashley DeVito said. “When I played for Penn Hills, we always played Plum, Oakland Catholic and Woodland Hills. When we moved to AAAA, it got rid of some of the rivalries. We get to play our neighbors next door, and it’s a lot more fun to play against those rivals we have within our own community.

“Historically, some of the teams in our section now are teams we had success against in years past.”

The Indians return senior forward Maya Wofford, who received PA Big 56 first-team all-section honors last season. Wofford received honorable mention after each of her first two seasons.

“I’m trying to stay as positive as I can by keeping everybody together,” Wofford said. “I know in past years, we’ve had separation with the team, but this year, we’re pretty close.”

Wofford will be complemented by other returning starters including junior center midfielder Molly McGuire and junior defender Kari Holt. The trio will serve as captains.

Junior Faith Petronio returns as the Indians’ goalkeeper.

“I’m very optimistic with the program this year,” DeVito said. “With the leadership of Maya, Kari and Molly have been absolutely phenomenal. With the potential of the underclassmen, it’s even more exciting,” DeVito said.

“With this awesome new dynamic and combination of players, they get a chance to come out and see what they are made of. They’ve worked so hard to stay together, and they deserve a chance to go out there and play.”

The Indians must replace last year’s seniors with juniors and sophomores who didn’t get much playing time in previous seasons. Penn Hills has to replace Dayvonna Hogan, who received second-team all-section honors for her play at the center back position.

DeVito, who is returning for her sixth season as Penn Hills’ coach, will start a minimum of three freshmen this season.

Freshmen Caroline McDevitt and Angelina Clayborn will roam the midfield with McGuire, and Kali Booker will be part of the back line for the Indians.

“It’s a fresh start. It’s a clean slate,” DeVito said. “Their main focus is to come to soccer every day and play as hard as they can. The past season, I had such an old team, but now I have an influx of younger kids that are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to learn and ready to go.”

Because the uncertainty of a season loomed for months, DeVito has been trying to make sure those involved in the program remain grateful for every practice they have together.

“I want them to feel grateful for every little bit that we got to play together,” DeVito said. “We don’t know if we’re going to make it through a season or even make it to our first game. But right now, they get to play and be with their friends. They get to play a sport they love to play.”

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