Westmoreland Athletes of the Week: Belle Vernon’s Daniel Sassak, Yough’s Justine Appolonia

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019 | 6:22 PM


Daniel Sassak

School: Belle Vernon

Sport: Soccer

Class: Sophomore

Claim to fame: Sassak, who had 12 goals in the first five games of the season, scored four goals to lead Belle Vernon (5-0, 2-0) to a 10-0 win over Uniontown in Section 3-3A action Sept. 5. Sassak scored twice in a 3-2 win over Elizabeth Forward in nonsection play Sept. 7. At the beginning of the week, Sassak scored the winning goal with 14 minutes left in a 2-1 section win over Ringgold on Sept. 3.

“Our section is going to be tough this year so I knew we needed to started off strong and gain some momentum for the season,” Sassak said.

What has been the key to the team’s hot start?

We really have preached playing like a team. It’s not as much about playing as individuals. We need to play together as a whole team.

What does the team need to do to make a deeper run in the playoffs this year?

We need to keep playing and stick together. When there are harder games, we need to bounce back and recover for the next game.

What was your mindset heading into the season after the departure of Markello Apodiakos and Aaron Brown?

We were pretty nervous, but we knew our opponents would notice we lost a couple key guys and we flew under the radar. We all knew we needed to step up.

What did you learn from watching them play?

Markello was pretty quick with the ball and knew where he was going with it before he had the ball. I learned to be more alert and to play harder and stronger.

How would you describe your style of play and why?

I’m a very offensive-minded player. I like to score goals and find the back of the net. I have really good teammates that really support me.

Justine Appolonia

School: Yough

Sport: Soccer

Class: Senior

Claim to fame: Appolonia, who has seven goals this season, scored three goals in two games this week for Yough (3-0, 2-0), who defeated Charleroi, 11-0, on Sept. 3 and Mt. Pleasant, 4-1, on Sept. 7.

“I think we’ve come together as a team. We are pretty confident in our team. We got two of our biggest games in Waynesburg and Mt. Pleasant games out of the way, which was great. I’ve been playing well, but I’ve had better starts. I’m doing all that I can, which is my goal for my last year,” Appolonia said.

What are your college plans for next year and why?

I’m going to go to Youngstown State. I was looking at Mercyhurst. I wanted to go somewhere where I would fit better school-wise and the best environment for me.

What has been the key to the team’s hot start?

We’ve come closer as a team. We’ve been all playing together since we were youth. The freshmen group fits in really well. We all have the mindset that this is our year, and nothing is going to stop us.

What does the team need to do to make a deeper run in the playoffs this year?

Stick together. Last year, we had our bumps in the road and we weren’t giving our 100%. It has been showing in practice already.

How has your game grown through the years?

Through my high school years, my confidence has grown. It shows in my game. I’m not scared to go after a ball or take a girl on one-on-one.

What was your favorite part of your summer and why?

I took part in Riverhounds Academy. We made it to the playoffs and made it San Diego. Playing soccer in San Diego is great, and we spent a couple days there to explore. I haven’t been to California before.

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