Thomas Jefferson girls ride momentum into WPIAL soccer playoffs
Saturday, October 24, 2020 | 11:01 AM
Thomas Jefferson posted a sparkling 10-2 record in league play in Sean Richter’s first season as head coach.
Unfortunately, both losses were to Section 3-3A champion Plum, which finished undefeated at 12-0.
The Jaguars ended up 13-2-1 and took an 11-game unbeaten streak into the WPIAL playoffs.
“Hopefully, we can stir the pot and make some moves in the playoffs,” Richter said before his No. 7 Jaguars’ scheduled game against Kiski Area in the first round Monday. “There are some really good teams out there. We are happy to be in position to get to compete with them. It would be great to have a home playoff game.
The Jaguars strung together an eight-game winning streak in the season’s second half and won 13 of 15 with one tie after opening with a loss against Plum. The Jaguars did not lose once in the month of October (11 games).
TJ outscored the opposition 46-2 during the winning streak as senior goalkeeper Maddison Sippey registered six consecutive shutouts between Oct. 2 and 12 and nine overall.
Sippey has been supported by a stellar defensive crew consisting of junior Bella Blosl, sophomores Jordan Sinclair and Olivia Supp and freshmen Cordie Wemyss and Abby Ngugi.
The Jaguars displayed resiliency and definite improvements throughout 2020. For example, after dropping a 4-1 decision to Plum in their 2020 lid-lifter, the TJ girls fell to the Mustangs, 1-0, in the rematch.
“Starting off the season playing No. 2 (Plum) in 3A gave us a look at what a high-quality team looked like,” Richter said. “The 4-1 loss gave us the motivation and direction we needed to go in. The bar was set, and the focus was all about how we would prepare to match that team the second time around. We knew if we could accomplish that, we could play with anyone in our section. The girls always looked forward and worked. Every practice session and game we got better and better. We learned more about ourselves and were becoming a better team.
“Two of our first five games were against Plum. Our second was a 1-0 loss but was a game changer. Changes in our play started becoming more visible. Things were starting to come together. We were able to remain organized in the back and move forward with a balanced attack. This catapulted us into section play, and girls started finding the back of the net.”
The Jaguars’ starting lineup for the postseason is expected to consist of Sippey at keeper; Blosl, Sinclair, Supp and Wemyss on defense; senior midfielders Emily Kane and Ava Lutz; junior midfielder Hailey Krawczyk; sophomore forwards Abby Attkinson and Emma Martinis; and freshman forward Natalie Lamenza.
Lamenza netted both goals in TJ’s late-season 2-1 win against Baldwin in double overtime.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way we have been playing,” Lutz said. “This team is so motivated and eager to score goals and win games as a unit. We have a super young, talented team, so I can only imagine how successful they’re going to be once the underclassmen have some varsity experience under their belts.
“I’m so proud of how far we’ve come as a program and everything we’ve accomplished this season so far. I seriously couldn’t have asked for a better, more exciting final senior season.”
Lutz raved about the Jaguars’ defensive performance this season. After the first game at Plum, TJ allowed only six goals the rest of the way. The Jaguars peppered in 68 goals overall.
Kane, like her midfield teammate, is proud of the Jaguars’ accomplishments in 2020.
“This team’s performance has really exceeded my expectations,” Kane said. “Many of the young girls on the team have stepped up for us in so many big ways. I believe we really went out there and left it all on the field, especially against the tougher opponents.
“Our team is strong in transitioning from defense to offense and possessing the ball. We have become more and more confident in playing out of the back to our defense and finding our wide players. Our midfield especially has a lot of chemistry and can find each other easily.”
Two of the underclassmen, Lamenza and Martinis, lead in scoring, complemented offensively by Supp, Kane and Krawczyk.
Following their strong regular season, the Jaguars were highly anticipating the WPIAL playoffs.
“My expectations are high,” Lutz said. “We’ve proven to others and ourselves that we can hang and compete with any team. I have so much confidence and trust in each and every girl standing beside me when we’re competing on the field. This is our year, and we couldn’t be more excited to play and win.”
Tags: Thomas Jefferson
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