With young lineup set to return, future looks promising for Plum girls soccer team
The Plum girls soccer team’s stay in the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs was brief -- just one game -- but coach Caitlin Schuchert said her young squad continues to trend in the right direction after a positive overall campaign.
“We always set the bar high,” Schuchert said. “We came up short on some of our goals, but a lot of players got positive experience in some high-level games. We had a small group of seniors, and it gave a lot of younger players opportunities to step up, and they did that.”
Plum finished its season 12-7 overall. It produced a 9-3 mark in Section 3-AAA and finished tied for second with Trinity behind only section champion Oakland Catholic (12-0).
The Mustangs drew the No. 10 seed for the WPIAL playoffs. Kiski Area, a former section rival and the No. 7 seed, got the better of Plum in the first round Oct. 20 and scored a 4-0 victory.
“Kiski was a really good team, and they caught us off guard with how good they were,” Schuchert said. “When it was all said and done that day, they beat us and were the better team. But we never gave up and kept fighting no matter the score. The girls were really mature in the sense that they realized it just wasn’t our day. We didn’t play our best game, but you have to give Kiski a lot of credit for the team they have.”
Schuchert credited the small but productive senior class with bringing the team together in a season of transition from Quad-A to Class AAA with several new opponents.
“The seniors were a really caring group in terms of how the team was getting along and if everyone was working as hard as they should,” she said. “It was nice to see those girls step up into greater roles as leaders, and the younger players really responded to that.”
One of the main tasks going into next season is to find the next starting varsity goalkeeper after Zoe Nonnenberg and Aly Bryner, who split time in net this season, move on because of graduation.
“There should be some good competition for that position,” Schuchert said. “We have two sophomores (Kelly Kvortek and Erica Taylor) who have trained under Zoe and Aly. Both have been very vocal about how they want to work in the offseason to fill that void.”
Schuchert also said senior Elena Banta was a key player in the back for the Mustangs.
Elena was always an outside back that never played that center back role,” Schuchert said. “She and (junior) Katie Patton were veteran anchors in the back for us with a lot of younger girls playing around them.”
Plum produced nine shutouts among its 12 victories. That included a seven-game shutout streak in the first half of the season.
Schuchert said she was impressed as well with the play of senior midfielder/forward Mika Gauntner.
Mallory Ratesic, another senior, suffered an ACL injury during her cup season in the spring and was not able to play for the Mustangs this fall.
“She’s still on the mend with a lot of rehab,” Schuchert said. “She was a starter for a couple of years, and it was a big blow to lose her. We missed her and what she can bring to the team. But we had people step up in her absence. Those things always can happen in a season.”
Sophomore Gina Proviano will lead the offensive charge into next season. She was one of the more prolific scorers in the area this fall with 18 goals, giving her 35 total for her career.
Sophomores Andrea D’Incau and Jamie Seneca each scored four goals, while juniors Tricia Fratangelo, Hannah Odom and Sophie Vargesko tallied three apiece.
“We’re continuing to develop a team system of soccer,” Schuchert said. “As disjointed as a team could be at the start of the season when you graduate a big group from the year before, this group really got comfortable with each other as the season wore on. When I reflect back on the season, I see that we aren’t losing a lot of these girls. There’s a lot of excitement about how much they will grow and how they’ll already will be a step ahead going into next season.”