New coach guiding P-O girls|
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
By Andy Stine Sports Writer
PHILIPSBURG - For the Philipsburg-Osceola girls soccer team, there is much hope for the 2012 season with 26 players on the roster, including seven seniors and 12 juniors. But there is a new boss in town for the Lady Mounties who believes there is the talent to have success this season.
Kristina McKenna takes the reins from Avis Ritter after a 3-15 campaign in 2011.
McKenna, who is originally from New Jersey in a suburb of New York City, is an eighth grade English teacher at P-O Junior High School and was an assistant with the junior high team last season.
"When the opportunity made itself available to coach the girls varsity team, I was a little bit nervous," said McKenna. "But I'm also so glad that I jumped in. This is an experience that I wouldn't trade."
"We're playing in a new system this year, and it's a more complex and a more mature system. It's taking a little bit to get used to, and the girls have really let themselves be coached. That's what I'm really proud of them for."
One of McKenna's first duties on her new job was to organize the Lady Mounties offseason work.
While the girls did take their lumps in the spring, there was a big learning process, and McKenna believes the work was beneficial to the team.
"The girls and I decided in the spring that we were going to try to get a spring rec league," said McKenna. "It was the first year that P-O was able to put together a U-19 spring rec league, which was awesome."
"It wasn't up to gender. We could've had boys on the team.
"We played huge boys teams, but it was really the beginning of the season. We really built a foundation. I've seen these girls really blossom into beautiful soccer players."
While P-O only lost two seniors last season in Marissa Albert and Annetta Czar, there is experience loaded throughout the field. However, McKenna made it clear to the players that every position was up for grabs.
"They're still battling out their starting positions," said McKenna. I told the girls when they came on the field, ‘I don't really care if you started last year. This is a whole new team, and I really need to see the dedication from you before I put you on the field.'
"And because of playing a new system, each girl is basically starting from scratch."
Carley Hahn and Sarah Belinda are penciled in as the team's goalkeepers this season. Hahn will also see time in the midfield, while Belinda can expect to play defense when she's not goalkeeping.
Belinda saw some time in the net last season, but it was mostly kept by Jacqueline Zawisa, who has came out from the net to play defense this season.
Senior Olivia Brown and juniors Erica Coval, Michala Whitehead and Sarah Yarger are all fighting for time on the defensive side.
The two captains of the team, Jordyn Powell and Maggi Ferguson, will play beside each other in the midfield. Powell was a Mountain League all-star selection a season ago. Megan Reish and Drew Peters will also be vying for time as midfielders.
"They are two amazing ladies," said McKenna of Powell and Ferguson. "They lead by example, and they've earned their respect from the team. They play a beautiful game. I'm very proud to be naming those two girls as captains."
"I have some amazingly savvy-footed girls who I expect beautiful things out of. I know they'll achieve great things."
Senior Alayna Bertothy and juniors Meili Belko and Rebecca Groff will all be on the front line for the Lady Mounties this season.
"I have a string of juniors," said McKenna. "I will be very sorry to see all of them go in two years. They make a really good core group of my girls.
"Since the spring, I've seen my ninth graders blossom and I've seen seniors who have looked great. I'm really proud of them."
McKenna will be assisted this season by Leslie Ferguson, Jeff Powell and Elle Hameetman.
P-O gets its season under way today at Penns Valley. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m.
*Alayna Bertothy, *Olivia Brown, Marlena Capatch, Katrina Clark, *Maggi Ferguson, Megan Reish, Mara Winters.
*Sarah Belinda, *Meili Belko, *Erica Coval, *Rebecca Groff, *Carley Hahn, Cassandra Lewis, Drew Peters, *Jordyn Powell, Jenna Snyder, *Michala Whitehead, *Sarah Yarger, *Jacqueline Zawisa.
Kaelie Fox, Miranda Simpson.
Cheyanne Cowfer, Makayla Jury, Vanessa Kephart, Makenzie Myers, Abigail Slogosky.
*Denotes returning letterwinners.
4-at Penns Valley, 7 p.m.; 8-at Tyrone, 10 a.m.; 10-Bellefonte, 7 p.m.; 12-Bald Eagle Area; 13-at Moshannon Valley, 6 p.m.; 18-Huntingdon; 20-at Central; 26-Penns Valley; 29-Central Mountain, 11 a.m.
1-West Branch; 2-Tyrone; 4-at Bellefonte; 6-at Clearfield, 7:30 p.m.; 8-at Bald Eagle Area, 7 p.m.; 10-at Huntingdon, 7 p.m.; 16-Central; 18-Clearfield; 22-at West Branch.
Games begin at 4 p.m. unless noted.