Sewickley Academy girls soccer ready for new section

September 27, 2018
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Sewickley Academy’s girls soccer team looked forward to defending its WPIAL Section 4-A title.

However, WPIAL realignment changed those plans. The Panthers wound up in Section 3 this fall.

“What they did last year is definitely motivation for them,” Sewickley Academy coach Jessica Peluso said. “We’re in a new section and have a new challenge now. It’s a little bit of unknown. But, we’ve played all the teams in the past. We’re mostly trying to focus on one game at a time, though.”

South Side Beaver and OLSH finished behind Sewickley Academy in the section standings last fall and moved to Section 3, as well. Freedom, a WPIAL Class AA finalist, and Riverside, a Class A playoff team last year, are some of the other teams in the section.

“I think we’re excited to see South Side Beaver and OLSH again, but we look forward to playing Riverside and other teams that we did not usually play against in the past,” Sewickley Academy senior Lehka Amin said. “We won the section last year, and we realize that wasn’t easy to do.”

The Panthers reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last year, but dropped a 4-0 decision to Shady Side Academy to finish 12-6-2. They hope to learn from that experience.

“Going to playoffs was great, but we have to keep in mind that it’ll be just as hard to get there this. Playoffs are not a given to us,” Amin said. “We had a really great year last year. Playoffs are a goal for us again, but we have to work really hard to get there.

“We have a lot of confidence. But, it’s making sure we don’t get too confident. We have to make sure we really hone in on our jobs. We had a lot of seniors last year, and we have to take what they taught us and put it into practice.”

Sewickley Academy returns some experience from last year. Up front, J.J. Jardini, Eiley Doyle and Amin will be the forwards.

Senior Linsey Szabo is back at center midfielder after missing the past two years with knee injuries.

Freshman Fife McCargo joins seniors Simi Shetty and Sarina Sandho in the midfield.

Kameron Lightcap, Kendall Lightcap, Emily Szabo and Maggie Paul are on defense, while Theresa Wilson starts in goal for the third year.

Kendall Lightcap and Emily Szabo are working their way back from injury and missed the preseason.

“So far, what has impressed me in the preseason is their effort and attitude and the early connections that are being made between some of the new combinations of players,” Peluso said.

Peluso is impressed with the improvement she’s seen over the past year.

“Especially the younger ones, they are starting preseason with an understanding of our system and how we play. That’s definitely been something that’s allowed us to start well,” she said.

“I am mostly impressed with the teamwork. I am excited to see what emerges and who is highlighted by it.”

The Panthers are excited to start the regular season.

“We’ve been working really hard,” Amin said. “We have a lot of fresh faces on the field this year, but we learn very quickly and we’re eager to improve. I am looking forward to us improving as a team as the season goes on.”

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