Clearfield soccer has higher goals|
Monday, August 27, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
HYDE - Last year, the Clearfield girls soccer team's theme under first-year co-head coaches Leslie Grice and Tom Mohney was ‘a higher goal.' And that goal was to fulfill everyone's potential individually and collectively as a team.
And after a 15-5-1 season that included a District 9 Class AAA title and a berth in the PIAA Tournament, it's safe to say that the higher goal was reached.
Now, Grice and Mohney hope to simply build upon the foundation that has been put in place and continue to mold a successful program.
"In order to be successful year in and year out, we need to dictate and control what we can control," Mohney said. "We can control our culture and our climate. But there are things we need to do to build upon our foundation and not let it up to chance.
"Whatever we can control, we will, whether it's our practices, our intensity, our culture. We dictate those things, and I think that is how we can be successful year after year.
"We're coming off a successful season, not in regards to winning but in regards to building a culture and climate of excellence and greatness for our players. Winning isn't enough for a foundation, so our foundation is pursuing greatness for our players and our team. We want to make a distinct impact on everyone we touch along the way."
While the overall goal of the coaches is building a successful climate and culture for the program, there are also some things the girls are hoping to do on the field.
And one of those things is to break through at the PIAA Tournament after coming seconds away from the first win in program history a season ago.
The Lady Bison led Forest Hills, 1-0, and were mere seconds away from moving on to the next round in the PIAA Tournament when the Lady Rangers knotted the score with just seven ticks remaining.
Forest Hills went on to win in overtime, and the girls who were on that squad have used it as motivation heading into this season.
"There's still a little sting there," Mohney said. "The girls haven't forgotten. I think it's a motivator."
"The kids were talking about next year on the bus on the ride home after that game," Grice said. "Many of them were saying they were happy to go as far as we did last year, and they knew what that meant for this year. It was exciting to hear them talking about that. They were already talking about next year.
"It's (the loss to Forest Hills) something we are thinking about. The girls that are returning have that in their mind."
Clearfield welcomes back nine letterwinners from that squad, including senior Sabrina Schwartz, juniors McKenna Aleksivich, Lauren Ammerman, Lauren Conrad, Carlee Freeberg, Kelsey Greenland, Katie Powers and Shannon Reinke and sophomore Tessa Munshower, and many of them along with other members of the team came into camp very ready to play.
"A majority of our team came into the preseason in better physical shape after pursuing a number of offseason opportunities," Mohney said.
"However, we aren't technically sound enough to execute tactically what we know. And I think that is a function of having old players in new positions and new players in new positions. Our soccer I.Q. is high, but our execution is not yet where we want it to be."
One of the reasons the team hasn't quite jelled yet is the loss of five important team members to graduation.
Three (Nichole Powers, Julia Ammerman and Kristen Butler) of the five accounted for much of the Lady Bison's scoring a season ago, and Candice Morgan was a big contributor on defense.
"We lost five outstanding young ladies of great character that were excellent soccer players," Mohney said. "Fortunately, we have four incoming freshmen along with three new team members to help try to fill those positions."
One position the Lady Bison doesn't need to worry about is goalie, where the reigning Mountain League MVP will be stationed for her third year as a starter.
"It's exciting to have Kelsey Greenland back," Grice said. "She was the Mountain League MVP last season. That was outstanding. And we have her back as a junior, and she's healthy and excited about the season. It's wonderful to have that solid keeper."
Returning to the defense to support Greenland are Conrad and Powers, while a pair of underclassmen in sophomore Maggie Sopic and junior Alayna Null will be counted on to contribute in the back.
The midfield should be the strength of the team with Schwartz, Aleksivich and Munshower all returning.
"We're very solid at midfield," Grice said. "They all know where to be and what to do. They are very technically sound."
There will be some new faces on the wing this season that will look to replace Julia Ammerman and Butler.
Junior Kara Thorp and freshman Raquel Grice will see plenty of action at the position, along with junior Brianna Spencer and freshmen Emily Ryan and Katelyn Ryan.
Returning letterwinner Lauren Ammerman was expected to hold down one of the wings, but an injury sustained in Clearfield's first scrimmage will likely keep her out of action for some time.
"We really utilized those outside flanks last year," Mohney said. "But we have Raquel with good speed. Kara has speed. We have some girls that can step in there. They are young, but they can step in."
Freeberg and Reinke will play forward, and along with several other returning letterwinners, look to fill the scoring void left with the loss of Nichole Powers, Julia Ammerman and Butler.
"We had big losses up front," Mohney said. "We're going to look for Carlee and Shannon and Tessa, along with Sabrina and Kara to fill in the holes on offense."
While the Lady Bison will have some new faces in the starting lineup this season, it isn't the only thing new for them. Clearfield will also be playing most of its home games on the just-installed FieldTurf at the stadium.
"We've played on a number of turf fields and had success," Mohney said. "It definitely can expose weaknesses. If you're not a quick team, you're reacting instead of anticipating. So we have to be prepared to be on a quick surface, because it is totally different than being in the grass."
As for goals, the Lady Bison are looking to once again compete for a district title and try to better their accomplishments from a season ago.
"We want to maximize each player's potential, number one," Mohney said. "As far as team goals go, we want to repeat as district champion, and we want to get further into states than we did last year. I think we're capable of that.
"And again, we want to build on that solid foundation of culture and climate. That's what our program is about. We want to serve others along the way."
One way the Clearfield girls soccer team is hoping to help others is by trying to raise money for a children's charity.
"We are raising money for juvenile diabetes through goals for kids," Mohney said. "We're looking for sponsors, and every goal that we score will get a donation to the charity. That's what the girls wanted to do."
The Lady Bison begin their season Sept. 4 at home against Central,
"We're excited for this year," Grice said. "You can definitely feel the excitement in the air."
Taylor Dixon, *Sabrina Schwartz.
*McKenna Aleksivich, *Lauren Ammerman, Doroty Celli, *Lauren Conrad, *Carlee Freeberg, *Kelsey Greenland, Elainie Jury, Mackenzie Kisamore, Alayna Null, *Katie Powers, *Shannon Reinke, Brianna Spencer, Kara Thorp.
Dana Feight, Rachele Hale, Sarah Hazel, Haley McKendrick, *Tessa Munshower, Jilli Neeper, Maggie Sopic, Caitlyn Stockwell, Janelle Wallace, Tessa Waring.
Raquel Grice, Katlyn Mitchell, Emily Ryan, Katelyn Ryan.
4-Central; 6-Huntingdon; 8-at Bald Eagle Area, noon; 12-at Bellefonte, 4 p.m.; 15-Brookville, 11 a.m.; 18-Tyrone, 4 p.m.; 19-at Penns Valley, 7 p.m.; 26-at Central, 5 p.m.; 27-at DuBois, 5 p.m.
2-at Huntingdon, 7 p.m.; 4-Bald Eagle Area; 6-Philipsburg-Osceola; 8-Bellefonte; 10-at Tyrone, 4 p.m.; 16-Penns Valley; 18-at Philipsburg-Osceola, 4 p.m.; 22-Punxsutawney, 4 p.m.
Varsity matches begin at 6 p.m. unless noted.