Jenna Slavin always knew she had the ability.
She just needed to wait her turn.
Slavin is a sophomore striker on the Franklin Towne Charter girls soccer team, and last year she had all the talent in the world to be one of the top scorers in the Public League. The problem was the Warriors had some very talented seniors, so playing time was hard to come by.
Slavin didn’t get angry that she wasn’t playing, she instead learned from her teammates and worked on improving her game. She felt that work would pay off.
“I knew Franklin Towne had a great soccer team when I came here and there were older players who were really good,” said Slavin, who lives in Port Richmond. “We had a really good team. I played a little bit, but I wasn’t one of the top players. I tried to learn and get better. I wanted to play.”
Those older girls must have been very good teachers.
Slavin became a starter this year and ended up scoring 22 goals and becoming the Most Valuable Player for the league. And league play couldn’t have ended more perfectly.
The Warriors went unbeaten in Public League play, and the only game they didn’t win, a tie to Central, was avenged in the Public League championship game as the Warriors reclaimed the Public League championship.
Franklin Towne bested Central 3-0 to win the championship on the strength of goals by Julia Carter, Rian Coleman and Slavin, who scored the final goal of the game midway through the second half.
That goal put the game on ice for Franklin Towne, which had won five straight Public League championships before the Lancers won the last two. It marked the first championship for Deb Ounan, who took over for Brianna O’Donnell prior to last year. Ounan was an assistant under O’Donnell, and the former coach remains an assistant under Ounan.
“Once I scored, I think we knew we had it,” Slavin said. “Central is good. We beat them and we tied them during the season. We really wanted to win this one, though.
“I’m happy for everyone, but I’m really happy for the seniors, they wanted this really bad. And our coaches, they were really excited. I’m happy we won. This is what we really wanted all season.”
There were many heroes responsible for the championship, but Slavin certainly did her part to help the Warriors get their crown back.
It took a lot of work, and believe it or not, sports was never something that came naturally to her. That is until she started playing soccer.
“When I was younger, I didn’t really like sports,” said Slavin, who plays club soccer for Fishtown and also plays for Bridesburg. “I played softball and I didn’t like it too much. I tried other things and didn’t like them, but then I played soccer and I really liked it.
“I think I liked it so I started working hard and I got good at it. The better I got, the more I liked it. Now I love playing.”
By virtue of their victory in the Public League title game, the Warriors moved on to the District 12 Class 4A championship, where they fell to Cardinal O’Hara 1-0 in a game that is the unofficial city title tilt. The loss ends the season for the Warriors.
Slavin wanted the year to produce more fun times, but she’s optimistic about the future of the program. The Warriors do have great seniors, but there are a lot of younger players who can lead the team to good times in the future.
Slavin will be front and center.
“I think we should be able to win next year, too,” Slavin said. “We learned a lot by playing this year. We played some really good teams and I’ve gotten better, too. We’ve all gotten better. I think a season like this will help.”
The season was great, and she’s not looking for a long break once it concludes.
Right after she stops playing, it’s time to play club ball.
“I play year round, so I won’t take time off,” Slavin said. “I won’t take any time off, I like playing all year because it helps you get better.”
She also plans to get better in other aspects of her game.
This year, as a sophomore, Slavin deferred to seniors to be the leaders. But next year, as the reigning MVP, younger players will look to her for guidance. And she’s going to hone those leadership skills starting now.
“I want to start in the mentor program in school,” Slavin said. “You go around and help people with whatever they need. You mentor them. I think that’s something I would like to do, I want to help people and that seems like a good way to do it.”
It will also help her become the leader the Warriors need in her final two years.
“I want to keep getting better and I think we’re going to have a really good team,” Slavin said. “I think we should be just as good next year because we have a lot of good players coming back.”