Westmoreland County athletes of the week: Penn-Trafford’s Nate Loughner, GCC’s Addison Vacanti

Friday, November 26, 2021 | 3:32 PM

Nate Loughner

School: Penn-Trafford

Sport: Hockey

Class: Junior

Claim to fame: Loughner, who has 15 points, including seven goals, scored twice to complete a hat trick during a five-goal third period for Penn-Trafford (4-1) in a 7-4 comeback win over Shaler in PIHL Class 2A action Nov. 15. Last season, Loughner only played six games after suffering a broken patella.

“Last week, our whole team started off slow. I started to play hard each shift. I’m coming off an injury where I only played six games. I’m trying to work hard to get back to my old self,” Loughner said.

What’s been the key to your personal success the last two games against Mars and Shaler?

It has to do with your mental preparedness and being ready at practice. Also, in practice I’m doing things I would do in a game. Finally, I wanted to have confidence when I go out there.

What did you learn after sitting out most of the season?

I learned when you’re playing the game you need to enjoy it more. It made me more determined to come back stronger. I did all the exercises I needed to do to get my leg back up to strength.

What did the team learn from the loss to Franklin Regional earlier this season?

We need to play a complete game because we were really slow coming out in the first period. How we played in the third period is how we should’ve played the whole game. We were very sloppy and unprepared for the first and second periods for sure.

What was your main goal heading into the season?

I’d say just trying to get back to where I was before I had the injury or even be better than before the injury.

What’s your favorite side dish on Thanksgiving?

Stuffing. I like it because I think it tastes very good with gravy on it.

Addison Vacanti

School: Greensburg Central Catholic

Sport: Soccer

Class: Freshman

Claim to fame: Vacanti, who scored five goals this season, corralled a wide deflection after a shot by Sara Felder and scored with 28:14 left in the second half to give Greensburg Central Catholic (18-3) a two-score lead in a 2-1 victory against Steel Valley in the PIAA Class A semifinals at Elizabeth Forward on Nov. 16. The Centurions’ win avenged a WPIAL final loss to Steel Valley earlier this season. GCC lost to Southern Columbia for the second time in a row in the PIAA Class A, 4-0 on Nov. 20 at Hersheypark Stadium.

“We have four freshmen starting. They had one sophomore and the rest of them were seniors,” Vacanti said. “Our future is bright. The Steel Valley game was a tough game because they were the team that beat us in the WPIAL final. Our seniors and Sara really stepped up. We wanted to win that game to make it to the state final.”

What was it like to score a goal in the PIAA playoffs during your freshman year?

I didn’t want to let down my team. I knew I needed to do whatever I could to get it in. It was a really hard shot by Sara, and I was able to put it in. I’m very happy I could help my team get back to the state finals.

What was it like to play alongside someone like Sara Felder?

It’s great. She pushes me. I want to work as hard as she does when I’m a junior. It shows me how hard I need to work to get to her level. She is a really great teammate and great to play with.

What was it like to have your coach back on the sidelines close to two weeks after giving birth?

It was a relief we got her back. She’s clear and tells us what she wants from us. She’s very motivating and so positive with everything. Our assistant coaches stepped up, and they made it an easy transition when she came back.

What are you looking to work on during the offseason?

I need to work on my speed, strength and becoming a stronger player. Our team as a whole, we are hoping to be as tight as this year’s team and stay close. I will be playing for my club team and getting more experience.

What’s your favorite side dish on Thanksgiving?

Mac and cheese. It’s a simple food, and you can’t really go wrong with it.

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