Young Sewickley Academy girls soccer learning on the go

Friday, August 30, 2019 | 8:09 PM

Sewickley Academy’s girls soccer team hopes the process equals results. The Panthers, who graduated 11 seniors from last year’s team, have a new look this fall.

“We do not have very many returning starters,” coach Jessica Peluso said. “We do have a nice crop of young talent.”

With so much experience gone from a year ago, Peluso is happy with how players have stepped up into bigger roles.

“We are a young team, and we’re going to be good,” she said. “It’s just a matter of working together and getting to know one another and growing as a team. The collective potential is there. They are all very hardworking and interested in improving.”

Eiley Doyle, Jill Pollon and Mishon Levine are the team’s seniors. Pollon, the starting keeper, has been sidelined with a concussion, and Levine is new to the squad after playing tennis. She will play in the midfield or at forward, along with Doyle.

Juniors Elsa Gordon, Kamryn Lightcap and J.J. Jardini return to the starting lineup. Gordon is at center midfield, Lightcap is a center back and Jardini is a forward. Classmate Mia DelVecchio will start on defense. Junior starting defender Emily Szabo is working her way back from an ACL injury she suffered during the winter. Junior Breanna Warner, a basketball player, has been training at goalkeeper and will take over that spot.

Sophomores Ella Sanfilippo and Fife McCargo will see time, too. However, McCargo is going to study abroad for the semester and will be able to play in only the first couple of games for the Panthers.

“We’re still figuring out the rest of the lineup,” Peluso said. “They are young and eager. We have seven freshmen. For a small school like us, that’s pretty big.”

The seniors and experienced players are working with the younger players to help them adapt.

“I am really proud of our chemistry with the freshmen. I think that’s beneficial. I think it makes everyone more comfortable,” Doyle said. “I think the seniors make an effort for the adjustment to not to be too scary for the younger girls. It think the freshmen are coming along.”

The preseason has been a productive one for the team as it tries to find its identity.

“There is a lot of collective potential. I am excited about the opportunities they have. They all have a positive, hardworking attitude,” Peluso said. “I think they’re still working on how to highlight each other’s strengths. Once they do that, I think our strength will be that we don’t rely on just one player.

“Preseason has been great. I think the team works very well together. I think, every year, it’s a different team. We’re all on the same page to work for it and be ambitious. We’re a small team, and you really have to get to know each other and support each other. We’re there to support each other. It’s a great experience.”

The Panthers hope to get back to the WPIAL playoffs after finishing 2-12-2 overall and 2-10-2 in Section 3-A last season.

“We’re a very promising young team,” Doyle said. “Our goal is to try to get to the playoffs and do the best we can. That’s always our goal. We love the game and try our hardest. We’ll see where it takes us.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.


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