Riverview girls look to build on trip to WPIAL playoffs

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Sunday, September 4, 2022 | 11:01 AM


For the Riverview girls varsity soccer team, 2021 certainly was a year of growth.

The Raiders rose like a phoenix from the previous fall when no team took the field because of the covid pandemic and lower-than-needed roster numbers.

A group of 16 came together to finish 4-10 overall and 4-8 in Section 1-A behind section champion Greensburg Central Catholic, runner-up Springdale, and Apollo-Ridge and Serra Catholic.

With Apollo-Ridge ineligible for the WPIAL playoffs, Riverview got the nod.

With a deeper roster and more than half of the team back from last year, coach Sean Abraham feels this year’s Raiders squad is ready to take several steps forward.

“Being the first year back after not having a season in 2020, we saw improvement and were making some strides the best we could,” coach Abraham said.

“We started to run into some injuries toward the end of the year, and that was tough with not having a lot on the roster. We didn’t finish as high (in the section standings) as we wanted to, but we were able to take part in the playoffs. There were a lot of good signs and some good growth in a number of the players.”

Riverview was scheduled to open its season Aug. 29 with a game against section foe GCC at Riverside Park, but bad weather postponed the game until Sept. 22.

The Raiders instead opened Aug. 31 with a matchup at new member Seton LaSalle. The Rebels went 11-7 last year and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals before falling to Springdale, 3-2.

“That is an opponent in Seton LaSalle who is totally new to us,” coach Abraham said. “The whole section, with teams like GCC, Springdale, Seton, Steel Valley and Serra, is tough. We have three of the four (Class A) semifinalists from last year, and Steel Valley is the defending WPIAL champ. We definitely will be tested all season.

“There definitely is more growth to be seen as these girls continue into the season and play more and more games. Some of the new girls have never played soccer before. It’s a matter of getting the different levels of experience more and more comfortable playing together.”

Senior Naomi Girson is the only player left from the 2019 team.

She weathered the fall of 2020 when the covid pandemic and low numbers prevented the Raiders from fielding a team.

Girson was a key part of last year’s return to competition, and Abraham said she is an experienced veteran who has helped bring the other returnees together with the new players representing all four classes.

Of the 20 who are on this year’s roster, 13 are back from last year: Girson and fellow seniors Anna Smith and Emery Carangio; juniors Lola Abraham, Georgia Tsambis and Aine Hassleman; and sophomores Addison Carangio, Sophia Emanuele, Lily Hood, Genevieve Kadylak, Molly Morrissey, Cailey Trosch and Katerina Tsambis.

Abraham, Smith and Georgia Tsambis are team captains.

Abraham was the team’s offensive nucleus last year in her first year of varsity soccer. She scored a Alle-Kiski Valley best 43 goals in 14 games and earned All-WPIAL honors.

“As an athlete, you always want to be challenged, and Lola is up for the challenge this year and more teams try to find ways to stop her,” coach Abraham said.

“She is itching to just get deeper into the season and start playing.”

In addition to her preparation for the upcoming season, Abraham started communicating with a plethora of college coaches, a number at the Division I level, when coaches were able to make contact with rising juniors starting June 15.

“Throughout all the practices, preseason, and training, this team has really come together,” Lola Abraham said.

“In just a short period, we could see the bond forming between the returning players and those new to the team. We’ve made so much progress so far, and I know that will continue throughout the season.”

Riverview players tested themselves in a scrimmage against Valley on Aug. 24, and the Raiders rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win 5-3.

Abraham scored three goals in the win, and senior newcomer Riley Ulrich added two goals.

“There were some really good signs from that game,” coach Abraham said. “It was a hot day playing on the turf at their place. The girls didn’t give up after we got down, and played together to come back.”

Also new to the team this year are seniors Brionna Long and Maci Orbin; junior Lena Raucci; sophomore Lyla Flanick; and freshmen Isabel Chapiro and Sienna Daley.

Long, also a member of the girls basketball team, has settled into the goalkeeper position, taking over for Chiara Brun, who started in net as a freshman last year.

Brun is not playing for the Raiders this year as she is studying abroad this semester in Belgium.

“Brionna has really picked up the game, and it’s all a learning process, as it is for the other new players on the team,” coach Abraham said.

“Her athleticism has really helped her tremendously.”

Riverview was slated to return to action Wednesday at home against Serra Catholic.

The Raiders step away from section competition Thursday for a 7 p.m. kickoff against Carlynton at Honus Wagner Field in Carnegie.

Riverview hosts Steel Valley on Oct. 6 for its annual night game which also is senior night.

Last year’s matchup under the lights against Ligonier Valley was a positive one for the Raiders who defeated the Rams, 7-2.

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

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