Thomas Jefferson girls soccer hits playoffs in stride after back-to-back section titles

Sunday, October 22, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The Thomas Jefferson girls soccer team was expecting a banner year on the pitch in 2023.

And that mindset has been met, at least through the regular season.

The TJ girls, after losing their season opener to West Allegheny, won all 16 other games on their regular season schedule.

“I feel like we have improved every step of the way,” coach Sean Richter said. “With a focus on attitude and effort, our best is yet to come.

“We have an athletic, fast group. It’s a smart class with a great workrate. We want to continue to improve. We work to get better and faster and be more confident as a team.”

The Jaguars clinched first place in Section 2-3A with a 14-0 record and were 16-1 overall. They outscored their opponents by a commanding 119-13 margin, which included a 113-10 advantage in section play.

The Jaguars posted nine shutouts, including wins by 19-0, 18-0, 12-0 and 10-0 scores, and averaged seven goals per game.

The team’s leading scorers are sophomore midfielder Sami Maglicco with 26 goals and senior forward Natalie Lamenza with 25. Both also are in double figures in assists.

Lamenza is a fourth-year starter and has earned all-WPIAL and all-section status for three consecutive seasons. Prior to the playoffs, she had accounted for 75 career goals and 18 assists.

“Our season has gone pretty smoothly, I would say,” Lamenza said. “We have had two close, tough games with EF, but we pushed each other as a team and got the job done.

“Personally, for me, my season is going pretty well also.”

Maglicco, a super sophomore, has fulfilled her role as a team leader in only her second year of varsity competition.

“My season has been very strong,” Maglicco said, “and I feel the connections with my teammates on and off the field progressively growing as the season moves forward. It feels great to see success in what we’ve worked on all year and get the results we have been training towards. I am very happy with the season so far, individually and as a team.

“Our expectations for the postseason are definitely to reach the WPIAL championship and to qualify for the state playoffs. Being that qualifying for states is a huge goal we have set for each other and hope to reach this year, it is going to take all of our focus and effort. As long as we play our game, I believe this expectation is fully capable of being met.”

Richter said it hasn’t exactly been a two-person show for the Jaguars. “Many players are contributing,” Richter said. “Olivia Della Lucia’s role has changed, and she is keeping the midfield organized with Aubrey Little. Cece Wessel and Anna Kondos have been big contributors up top. Our back line of Ashlynn Fry, Abby Ngugi, Lex Marcinko and Sierra Frisoli has been great for us. There are so many who’ve contributed.”

The team’s starting lineup is comprised of Lamenza, Wessel, Kondos or Aislin Majoris at forward; Maglicco, Little, Della Lucia or Katie Sukal at midfield; Fry, Ngugi, Marcinko and Frisoli on defense; and Annmarie Graham at the goalkeeper position (or Nyla Kiral, Olivia Frisoli or Emma DeSimone).

Sierra Frisoli suffered a torn ACL late in the year and junior Silvia Kashak took her place on defense.

The Jaguars’ lineup is a nice blend of upperclassmen and younger players.

Lamenza, Sukal, Ngugi, Marcinko, Sierra Frisoli and DeSimone are seniors. Majoris, Della Lucia, Fry, Kashak and Graham are juniors, while Wessel, Kondos, Maglicco, Little and Olivia Frisoli are sophomores. Kiral is a freshman.

“We lost our keeper (sophomore Maddie Gula) at midseason with a knee injury,” Richter said, “so we have been working with Nyla Kiral, Liv Frisoli, Annemarie Graham and Emma DeSimone. Each has stepped in and contributed. They have been coming up big for us in big games.”

The TJ girls have enjoyed a dazzling two-year run on the pitch, particularly in the regular season. The Jaguars were section champions in 2022 with a 13-1 record; they are 27-1 in league play over the past two years.

“I’m very happy we won the section again this year,” Lamenza said. “I think we deserved to win this because we put our all into every game and we provided results and proved ourselves. We are looking for good competition (in the playoffs) for us to prove ourselves again. We are hoping and looking to make it to states.”

“I think this is the team from TJ that has a chance to make something special happen. Last year was our first time winning section in over 20 years, and now we are back-to-back champions. I’m excited to see how our run at playoffs goes and I look forward to hopefully being able to finish my senior season with more goals and assists than last season.”

Maglicco is batting 1.000 with the Jaguars; she is two-for-two in playing for a section titlist.

“It feels great to not only win the section this year but to win it two years in a row,” she said. “It was one of many expectations the team set, and it feels great to have reached that goal.

“It was well-earned and definitely took a few battles to do so and get the job done.”


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