Southmoreland girls chasing 1st playoff berth since ’12

September 23, 2018

Southmoreland girls soccer coach Aryn Askin didn’t get the results she had hoped for in her first season with the team.

But the Scotties have shown the desire to improve and get better after a 4-12 campaign.

“Having a year with coach Askin as head coach will absolutely make a difference,” senior Jenna Conty said. “We are more familiar with her now and have learned from her and what to expect.

“Now we just have to put it on the field.”

Askin said when she introduced fitness tests to the team in the offseason before her first season, she was met with hesitation. But a year later, the Scotties embraced the tests.

“I am a meticulous record keeper,” Askin said. “I kept all the times and scores from last year, and nearly every player improved. They took what I said to heart and came back with a chip on their should ready to work.”

Despite losing only three seniors from last season’s roster, the Scotties are still going to be young. Of the 24 players set to be on the roster, Askin said only seven will be upperclassmen. But the blend of experience and youth that will look to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2012.

“We have a new assistant coach, coach (Holly) Shipley, who is a former Southmoreland soccer player just like coach Askin,” Conty said. “They both have a lot to bring to the table, and we have the numbers this year, more players with the addition of several freshmen this year.”

Southmoreland should receive a major boost from Conty. The senior received all-section honors last season for her play as a defender. But with some of the freshmen joining the team and likely making an impact on that side of the field, Conty could see a position change and have an opportunity to score some goals.

“She is one of those players with a presence on the field,” Askin said. “She was very strong on defense last season. In games we were losing 6-0 or 5-0, she was still diving at balls to keep them out of the net.

“Not many people do that. It made a big impact on the mentality of the team seeing a player do that.”

A pair of midfielders will look to give the Scotties scoring touch. Junior Mercedes Smartnick scored several goals last season and will look to become more consistent. Sophomore Bailey Steban got experience last season. Seniors Liz King, a forward, and midfielder Madison Formato both return and should help guide the team.

On defense, sophomore Sahara Willard will contribute after seeing the field regularly in her first varsity season. Askin said the incoming freshman class has three or four players who will be battling for playing time on defense.

Junior Marti Burke returns at goalkeeper after earning all-section honors.

“She is very intense,” Askin said. “She is constantly willing to learn and get better. She is bound and determined to get better and not let anything get by her.”

Section 3-2A should provide a challenge for the Scotties. Waynesburg is the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion, and Yough won 14 games. South Park has dropped down from Class 3A after reaching the PIAA playoffs last season.

Mt. Pleasant also dropped down from Class 3A, and Askin said she is looking forward to the team rekindling their “backyard brawl.”

“Mt. Pleasant is always fun for us because they are crosstown rivals,” Askin said. “It is always interesting. They are fairly athletic, so it should be a good battle.”

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