Penn Hills girls soccer team celebrates growth, improvement in 2nd half

November 15, 2018

After qualifying for the playoffs the past two seasons, Penn Hills girls soccer took a step back when you analyze the team through wins and losses.

However, coach Ashley DeVito was pleased with how her team competed the second time around when facing off against Section 3-4A foes.

DeVito was most pleased with consistently lowering the goal differential the second time the Indians (3-14, 2-10) play against top teams.

“I was happy since our results in the first half weren’t as strong as they were in the second half of the season. A lot of the results weren’t necessarily in wins, but we had a lot of growth and improvement the second time we played teams,” DeVito said.

“In a way, it was a little frustrating since we wanted to put a lot more balls in the back of the net and have some of those games translate into more wins. However, we saw so much growth and improvement that we were able to celebrate that at the end of the year.”

The Indians were led by junior midfielder Sierra Hankey and sophomore Maya Wolford. Hankey led the Indians with six goals, while Wolford netted five.

After losing the first three games of the season, the Indians defeated Woodland Hills, 6-1, in nonsection play Sept. 13.

The Indians lost to Penn-Trafford, 9-0, in their following match, but they bounced back to beat Latrobe, 3-1, in section play Sept. 17.

Penn Hills, which was shut out seven times, swept the season series against Latrobe when the Indians defeated the Wildcats, 1-0, on Oct. 8. The second win over Latrobe snapped a six-game losing streak.

“I thought this year was such a great learning experience for us with the new classification and section for us. I think with a year in the section under our belt, we’re going to be more successful with planning, preparation and our tactics on how we want to approach each game,” DeVito said.

Even with not getting the results in the win column this season, DeVito will continue to set small attainable goals for the team as they prepare for next season.

“We’ve always been built on the foundation of growing and improving. My first year, four years ago, we didn’t have enough girls for a JV team and we lost every game by double digits,” DeVito said.

“I told the girls four years ago that we’re just looking to improve every year with small milestones. I think we will build on making small little milestones to reach along the way.”

Along with Wolford’s versatility on the field, DeVito was pleased by how freshman midfielder Molly McGuire progressed from starting the season on the bench to finding a home in the starting lineup by the end of the season.

The past couple of seasons, DeVito has relied on senior goalkeeper Autumn Blair to provide leadership on the backline no matter the score of the match.

“She was able to keep us afloat when it seemed like everything else was crashing. There would be times in games where we had breakdowns for 10 minutes, and Autumn was able to keep us grounded and keep us pushing forward until our team was able to dig out of that rut,” DeVito said.

Next season, DeVito will turn to freshman Faith Petronio, who saw action in net for the junior varsity team this season.

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