Yough girls soccer program loaded once again

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Monday, September 27, 2021 | 5:15 PM


As sure as the sun comes up each day, Yough has been a WPIAL girls soccer playoff team under coach Dann Appolonia.

The Cougars have made the district postseason every season since 2010. Appolonia took over in 2012.

And here’s the thing with his teams: Just when they look like they might have an off year — “down” is too strong a word for this program — the Cougars rise to the occasion. Time and again.

This season seems to be no different.

Some forget the Cougars only lost three seniors and, conversely, returned eight starters, including standouts McKenzie Pritts, a junior midfielder, and seniors Marin Sleith (goalkeeper) and Hannah Biros, another midfielder.

A WPIAL finalist in Class 2A two years ago, Yough took a 7-0-1 record (3-0-1 Section 3-2A) into the week, following an 11-0 win over Brownsville on Saturday.

The Cougars have risen to No. 2 in the TribLive HSSN WPIAL Class 2A rankings.

Yough is still lurking and very much a part of the 2A conversation. The team is ranked No. 4 in the classification.

“It’s very rare that a coach knows for sure what to expect from the team early in the season,” said Appolonia, a former standout defender at Ringgold. “But we have eight returning starters back from a team that made the semifinals, so I would have been disappointed if we didn’t do well to start the season.

“Having said that, we have a tough section again this year so we haven’t accomplished anything yet.”

Yough has two college commits on the roster in Pritts and Sleith. Pritts gave a verbal commitment to Robert Morris, while Sleith is headed to Edinboro.

While the aforementioned players have been strong, a missing piece of the puzzle looks to be freshman Kendalyn Umbel. She is second on the team with 10 goals, two behind Pritts.

“She is a freshman, but I need her to play more like a junior or senior and so far she has,” Appolonia said of Umbel.

Biros, who leads the Cougars in assists, also kicks for the football team.

The coach said Pritts and Biros have combined to become the offensive and defensive catalysts.

“Defensively, (senior) Makayla Dixon, (junior) Hannah Wright and (senior) goalkeeper Marin Sleith have been great,” Appolonia said.

Pritts said Yough’s winning culture is a credit to the coach.

“Everything has to start with coach Dann,” she said. “He has been around a long time, and the success has shown. Experience from past upperclassmen trickles down through all underclassmen year after year, which, again, is attributed through coach Dann.”

Yough has four semifinal appearances under Appolonia, who began the season with 121 wins at Yough.

Pritts is planning for another run in the postseason.

“We have talent in the offense, the defense, the mids and excellent goal keeping,” she said. “This year we have a nice mix of experience and inexperience that is starting to jell pretty well right now.”

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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