Westmoreland County girls soccer notebook: Coaching couple extends helping hand to Jayhawks

Tuesday, September 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The Jeannette girls soccer team was missing a coach and on the verge of circling the drain when the district turned to its former leader to get things back on track.

Billy Bryant, who resigned last year after two seasons leading the Jayhawks, was asked to return to the bench by athletic director Adrian Batts.

The move paid off because the program, while short-handed most games, appears to have stabilized.

“Coach Batts and I have a good relationship,” Bryant said. “I was the manager on his (basketball) team when I was in high school. He didn’t want me to leave. I didn’t want to see the program go downhill. I have a connection with everybody in this team.”

Even with a young child at home, Bryant decided he could make coaching work around his work schedule at Pittsburgh Paints.

He gave the team a fresh coat and even brought a helper: his wife, Crystal (Hozempa) Bryant, who, like her husband, is a former Jeannette soccer player.

The husband-wife duo have the team’s best interests at heart.

“It’s not ideal, but she really helps me out,” Bryant said. “We do what we can. Jeannette people help each other out. That’s what we do. It takes a village.

“We have some more girls coming up, so I think the future is here.”

Crystal Bryant said she was glad to step in to help keep the program afloat.

“If it wasn’t for (Billy), I probably wouldn’t be doing this,” she said. “But he wants what is best for the girls. I am glad to help him out. It makes you feel good to see the girls play.”

Jeannette (0-7-1) has one of the smallest rosters in Class A soccer. In one game this season, the team had to play with eight girls.

“We were up for the challenge,” Billy Bryant said. “We have some kids on the team who have never kicked a soccer ball in their life. But the girls are working and want to get better.”

GCC still ranked

Greensburg Central Catholic remains the only Westmoreland County team in the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association rankings.

The Centurions checked in this week at No. 7, up one spot, in the Class A top 10.

Other WPIAL teams ranked in Class A include Riverview (No. 6) and Springdale (7).

GCC stayed at No. 3 in the Trib Live HSSN top 5, behind Freedom (1) and Springdale (2).

Springdale (7-1, 5-1) plays at GCC (5-1, 5-1) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a first-place matchup in Section 1-A. Springdale won the first game 3-0.

Also in the Trib rankings, Latrobe is holding steady at No. 4 in 3A behind Mars, Moon and Plum, and Mt. Pleasant remains No. 2 in 2A.

Vikings on a roll

Mt. Pleasant blanked No. 4 South Park, 1-0, on Monday to post its seventh straight shutout.

The Vikings have outscored teams 60-0 in that time and have only given up three goals all season.

Their losses are to Class 3A opponents Penn-Trafford (1-0) and No. 2 Moon (2-0).

Latrobe on a hot streak

Latrobe also is playing some of its best soccer. The Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in 3A, ran their winning streak to six with a 9-0 victory over Greensburg Salem.

Latrobe has had 31 goals and allowed three during this run, which included a 2-1 win over then-4A No. 5 Mt. Lebanon.

One by one

Franklin Regional had a reputation for playing close games last year, and the trend has carried over.

The Panthers have played in seven one-goal games this season, winning four, losing three and tying one. Three games went to overtime, against Penn-Trafford, Blackhawk and Montour.

The game-by-game results are almost identical to last year’s.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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