Undefeated Mt. Pleasant girls soccer team in rare form

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022 | 5:11 PM


A 3-5-2 formation is somewhat rare in high school girls soccer.

It takes a strong midfield presence, versatile wing-backs and a blend of speed and patience to execute the shape in its intended sense.

But Mt. Pleasant coach Rich Garland knew he had all of those riches in a young, budding lineup that is turning the Vikings into a legit contender in WPIAL Class 2A.

“Our girls can get up and down the field and attack when they’re in space,” Garland said. “We’re not going to kick and run. We want to play high-level soccer because that is what some of the top programs do.”

Mt. Pleasant (8-0, 4-0 Section 3-2A), the No. 2-ranked team in the class behind Avonworth, is getting big minutes from underclassmen.

When the Vikings played Southmoreland, the team they supplanted in the rankings, they started five freshmen, two sophomores, two juniors and two seniors.

Their newfound formation is designed to dominate possession and create an abundance of offensive players in clusters at different spots on the field, which ultimately leads to matchup issues and leaves opponents guessing who to mark.

Mt. Pleasant made the WPIAL quarterfinals last year but lost to Southmoreland, 1-0, and finished 13-6.

Most of that team returned, and Garland knew he had some talent with which to work. He knows the game and would only attempt the 3-5-2 if he has the personnel that could operate it.

It would be unfair to burden a less talented group with it.

“To play the way we play, you have to be very disciplined, and you train for it,” Garland said. “There is a lot of fitness involved. But the thing is, if you don’t play as a team, it doesn’t work.”

Sophomore Rylin “OshKosh” Bugosh has emerged as a scoring threat. She produced back-to-back hat tricks against Yough and Southmoreland, traditionally the most challenging section games for Mt. Pleasant.

“They make it tough with the way they run,” Southmoreland coach Josh Pajak said. “They have 10 players who are fast. And they are physically good and play a technical game.”

The back line of junior Maggie Piper, freshman Raygan Mizikar and freshman Caitlyn Fullman have teamed with freshman goalkeeper Laurel Rummel to produce five shutouts in the first six games.

“It’s an uncommon formation we use,” Bugosh said. “It’s an adjustment for teams with four in the back and two up front.”

The Gesinski sisters — junior Riley and freshman Morgan — assisted one another’s goals in a 6-1 win over Southmoreland.

Morgan Gesinski had a hat trick in a 3-1 win over Elizabeth Forward. She had two more goals Monday when Mt. Pleasant edged No. 5 South Park, 3-2, in a stern 2A test.

Senior Marissa Garn brings experience and talent to the midfield. That was also going to be the case for senior midfielder Cassidy Fullman, but she tore her ACL in the preseason.

“She was our rock star midfielder,” Garland said. “We had to try to replace what she did for us.”

The Vikings scheduled 3A newcomer Penn-Trafford and blanked the Warriors, 4-0, a sure indicator they could have something special brewing.

They also have Moon, the 4A WPIAL and PIAA champion last season that also dropped to 3A, on the schedule later in the season.

“We weren’t scared to play anyone,” Garland said. “We know the kind of teams we are going to see down the road.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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