Montag leads Ragdolls to state tournament

Kiersten Montag led Ryan with 12 goals last year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Kiersten Montag learned from a senior last year.

This year, she’s returning the favor.

Montag is a senior striker on the Archbishop Ryan High School soccer team, and when she became a full-time starter last year, she worked with senior Gianna Monaco, who was one of the most dynamic scorers in the Catholic League.

As a junior, Monaco led the team in scoring, but last year, teams decided to change how they’d cover her. Montag, the other forward, had to learn how to finish for the Ragdolls.

“That was kind of the plan,” said Montag, who buried 12 goals during her junior season when the Ragdolls went on to win the Catholic League championship. “We knew teams were going to man mark her, so she became more of our playmaker and she assisted me and I had to score. She was so good, I just had to score after she got me the ball. We worked really well together and that made it a lot easier.”

This year, Montag made sure to have the same chemistry with her new forward.

With Monaco at Holy Family where she’s going to continue her soccer career once the Tigers get back to playing, Montag has found a connection with Rebecca Dalton, a junior who now starts alongside her.

“I wanted to make sure we played well together because that helped us a lot last year when I worked well with Gianna,” Montag said. “It’s not just important to us, it’s important to the whole team. We’re really a close team, and I think that’s why we win when we win. We just really work well together as a team.”

Montag credits the family-like atmosphere with a reason for the team’s success. She can also point to her family as a reason for her success.

Montag comes from a family full of great soccer players. Her mom Missy played at Ryan, as did her dad, George, who is now the coach at Holy Family University. Her older brother Georg also played at Ryan and now he is a junior playing for his dad with the Tigers.

She also has two younger siblings, Olivia, 14, and Julia, 11, who are soccer players. And she’s doing her best to do for them what her older brother did for her.

“I always tried to be like my brother and I learned things from him because he’s very good,” said Montag, who lives in Parkwood. “I learned a lot from my dad, too. He coached me. At games, he watches, but sometimes he’ll yell for me to run and I listen. But we have great coaches, so he lets them coach.

“My sister (Olivia) is going to be an incoming freshman at Ryan next year and she’s going to play. I like to do for them what my brother did for me. It’s very important (to set a good example) because I can tell they always copy me so I try to be a good role model and guide them. I always look up to my brother, especially how he played on the field.”

She’s also setting a great example for her teammates.

Ryan didn’t have a chance to defend its Catholic League championship this year because the league opted to compete for a state championship instead. Ryan qualified for a spot in the Class 3A playoffs when it defeated Cardinal O’Hara 3-0 this year.

That put the Ragdolls right where they want to be, but the team fell short of reaching its goal. Ryan was eliminated from the state playoffs in the first round after falling to Northwestern Lehigh in penalty kicks after the teams played to a 0-0 tie through regulation and overtime.

It was a tough way to go out because the Ragdolls had the better of the play, but in overtime, Ryan missed its first shot and Northwestern Lehigh buried all of its chances.

Montag is starting to think about what she’s going to do next year.

Holy Family is certainly an option. Not only would she be with her brother and father, but there are a few former Ragdolls who are on the Tigers soccer team.

It also is a good place to study nursing, which is what she is hoping to pursue.

“I definitely want to play soccer, and study nursing, it’s something I’ve been interested in for a while,” said Montag, who is a member of the National Honor Society and the Interact Club, a community outreach program. “I’ve always liked nursing. I like to help people. I’ve always been pretty caring, I don’t like to see people upset and I’ve been interested in the medical field.

“I know it will be hard, but I still want to play soccer, I think I’ll be able to do it.”