With Mohrbacher sisters filling the net, Freedom girls soccer doesn’t skip a beat

Thursday, October 17, 2019 | 4:18 PM

Freedom girls soccer has a bit of a different look from the 2018 WPIAL championship team after the graduation of some key seniors and standout Jayden Sharpless transferring to North Catholic, but the results have been the same.

There have been goals, goals, more goals and wins.

Led by the high-scoring Mohrbacher sisters, Renae and Jules, the Bulldogs rolled to an 18-0 record in the regular season and start their title defense as the top seed in the Class A bracket.

Freedom plays the winner of Thursday’s play-in game between Beth-Center and Ellis School in the first round 6 p.m. Monday at Moon.

Freedom has been in a WPIAL final four of the last five years and won in 2016 as well as 2018, but Bulldogs coach Colin Williams wasn’t sure what to expect going into this season due to the departures.

Sharpless scored a school-record 64 goals last year and was the Tribune-Review Player of the Year, but the Mohrbachers have had no trouble filling the scoring void. Renae, a sophomore, has 55 goals and is only nine away from tying Sharpless. Jules, a freshman, has stepped in right away and netted 27 goals. They’ve accounted for 80 percent of Freedom’s 82 goals this year.

“Renae has blossomed into a main goal scorer and her sister, Jules, is just as good and she’s only a freshman,” Williams said. “It was Renae’s first year last year and she was kind of behind Jayden, who was our predominant goal scorer, bur Renae was in the 20s last year. She’s really blossomed into a really solid player. She plays midfield too. I don’t always play her up top. She helps dictate the game, which is really good.”

Renae and Jules make up two-thirds of a goal-scoring family, which also includes older brother Tyler, who is one of the top scorers in the WPIAL on the boys side. Williams also coaches the boys team, which is the No. 6 seed in Class AA and faces No. 11 Southmoreland at noon Saturday at Norwin.

Williams makes no secret about wanting to push the envelope offensively. He wants his team to attack, and that suits the Mohrbachers. Renae worked in the offseason to prepare to become the team’s main goal-scoring threat and it’s an added treat to do so alongside her sister.

“We knew since we were losing a bunch of our scorers from last year I knew I was going to have to step up,” Renae said. “I just prepared myself for that. Being able to work with my sister this year had me pretty excited too going into the season.

“I’m super proud of (Jules) and seeing how well she does out there. It’s fun to be able to play and connect with her. There’s really no better feeling than when both of us get to work together and assist on each other’s goals.”

Jules had a close look at what the playoffs are like following the Bulldogs’ run a season ago, which ended in with a 3-2 loss in overtime to Southern Columbia in the PIAA final, and is excited to get her first taste of high school postseason action.

“I’m kind of nervous, but I have all the faith in my sister and the rest of our team that we can keep moving forward in the playoffs,” Jules said. “I think if we give our all and work together, we can go pretty far.”

Freedom relies on senior co-captain Sidney Cook to anchor the back end as the team’s sweeper. Midfielder Myah Hrinko is also a captain.

Pushing up offensively can leave the defense exposed to counterattacks, but Cook’s speed helps nullify threats.

“Sidney is probably the fastest person I know,” Jules said. “She can make the smallest mistake and always get back, because she’s faster than any other person we’ve played against. It’s really hard to get past her, because she is going to beat you down the sidelines or chase you down and stop you.”

Freedom wrapped up its fifth consecutive section title and has lost only two games in section play during that span.

“There’s no complacency. We’re a different team,” Williams said. “Everybody playing knows we have different players, but it still works. I’m a forward-thinking offensive type of coach. If you can get open and you have goal scorers, then you can win games, even if sometimes it’s 6-5.

“We’re strong enough on the back line when we need to be and hopefully that can continue. We’re not in a tremendously strong section, but we have to play the games we have to play. We’ll see where we are in the playoffs. We had a good run last year, so we’re hopeful. It’s one game at a time and we’ll see if we can win it.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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