Young players stepping into new roles for Pine-Richland girls soccer

Sunday, August 29, 2021 | 11:01 AM

Entering her second season as the Pine-Richland girls soccer coach, Rachelle Dixon has some spots to fill in the lineup.

Not only did the Rams lose several key seniors like standout goalkeeper Katherine Kelly and midfielder Megan Donnelly, who’s now at Villanova, but three key juniors are not coming out for the team this fall.

Ava Boyd was recently called up to train with the Under-17 U.S. Women’s National Team and Stephanie Cornelius and Gianna Koss are taking the school season off to focus on traveling to out of state camps in hopes to finalize their recruiting.

That leaves plenty of openings for younger players to vie for, but the Rams do have five returning starters to lean on.

Rachel Bashe, Kate Lindrose, Jaclyn Murray, Jennifer Betush and Manon Prokesch are all back from last year’s squad that made the WPIAL postseason and fell 1-0 to Moon in the first round.

“We lost some key players from last year and we have three players that are in the thick of their recruiting year, so they won’t be with us this year, but we will have them back next year for their senior year,” Dixon said.

“We have the opportunity for players to step up and fill those roles and we’re already seeing that. It’s a rebuilding year, especially coming out of covid. We have some young players showing good signs that we’re excited about.”

Boyd burst onto the scene as a goal scoring threat last year along with Prokesch and now has the opportunity to train with some of the top girls soccer players in the country in her age group.

“She deserves it,” Dixon said of Boyd. “She’s phenomenal. We’re excited for her. It’s a big recruiting year for her, so she’s traveling to a lot of camps. We’ll miss her and (Koss and Cornelius) for sure.”

Prokesch, a junior, will take the striker role and be the team’s top scoring threat. Bashe, a senior, and Lindrose, a junior, bring stability and dependability to the defense as the team’s center backs. Murray and Betush will anchor the midfield.

All five returning starters will be counted upon for leadership in guiding the less experienced players.

Dixon said senior midfielder Mary Fannie has performed well in camp and is excited to see how that translates into game action.

Pine-Richland is in Section 1-4A with Butler, North Allegheny, North Hills, Shaler and Seneca Valley.

One of the areas of focus during training camp has been patience. Dixon wants her team to be diligent and know when to pick their spots to pounce on opponents mistakes.

“We’re going to have to stay compact and have higher pressure to win the ball early, especially against the teams in our section,” Dixon said.

“The teams in our section are so good at pushing their forwards high and creating gaps in the midfield, so we’ll have to be disciplined. We may only get one or two opportunities a game against the teams in our section, so we’ll have to capitalize on those and finish them. It comes down to having the maturity to recognize when it is time to counter and when it is time to be patient.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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