Former star Scarlett Walsh takes over Ryan girls soccer team

Scarlett Walsh won a Catholic League championship as a player at Archbishop Ryan. Now she wants to win one as a coach. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Scarlett Walsh was part of the dynasty when she was a player.

Now she hopes to keep it going as a coach.

Walsh, a 2013 graduate of Archbishop Ryan High School, is returning to the Ragdolls girls soccer team as the new coach, replacing Jon Geist, who left to take the same position at Chestnut Hill College.

“I played at Ryan and two of my sisters played at Ryan, I love the school and couldn’t wait to get back,” said Walsh, who went on to star for West Chester University, where she later served as an assistant coach. “I’ve had a lot of success at Ryan and I can’t wait to help.”

Walsh inherits a program that has been quite successful.

The Ragdolls have won eight championships in the last 14 seasons.

Ryan Haney, who is now coaching the boys program, led the Ragdolls to six titles during his career with the girls, then Geist led Ryan to two titles in five years. His fifth season was this year, when the Catholic League didn’t have a championship because of the shortened season due to coronavirus.

During her senior year, Walsh led the Ragdolls to their first of four straight Catholic League championships under Haney.

It was a very exciting time for her.

“We won my senior year and they won four in a row, and that was very exciting,” said Walsh, who was a three-time All-Catholic and won the Northeast Times Catholic League Girls Soccer Player of the Year in her senior season. “When I played at Ryan, I would get super excited to play against Wood and Lansdale and I can’t wait to be back in that same position, cheering to beat Wood and Lansdale.

“It’s very exciting for me, I can’t wait to be back at Ryan and be back in the Philly Catholic League. Playing in it was fun, and I’m excited to be coaching.”

She’ll get that opportunity in the fall.

She’ll also get the opportunity to do for girls what her coaches did for her.

Walsh remains close with Haney, Geist and Betty Ann Kempf Townsley, who coached her at West Chester.

Not only does she know what a good coach can do to make a soccer player better, she knows what they can do to help in all aspects of life.’

“I’ve stayed close with all of them, and when I got my All-American award in college, Jonny reached out to me and told me I deserved it and he was proud. And Haney always supported me, too.

“Coaching relationships are so important. I’m very close with all of my coaches. They’re lifelong friends. And I’ll stay in touch with them, I know they’ll help guide me through my coaching career, and it’s exciting that I’ll have a chance to help girls like they helped me.”

Walsh, who works in real estate, has always had the nurturing style that coaches rely on. She was a captain for two years in high school and again in college, and during that time, she learned what it took to be a mentor.

“I think I knew I wanted to be a coach in college and even toward the end of my high school days,” Walsh said. “I remember when I was in senior roles at Ryan and West Chester, I felt like I needed to teach the younger girls and get them up to the older girls’ level. I liked it so much, as soon as I stopped playing, I wanted to coach.”

While Walsh’s college coaching career lasted only one year, she stayed on to help with recruiting, and was always there to assist the Golden Rams when possible.

It’s that attitude that will serve her well at Ryan, a place she’s loved since she was a Ragdoll.

And while Walsh was hired because of her soccer resume, it helps that she’s a Ragdoll through and through.

Ryan has a special situation where it has made a habit of bringing back graduates to run its sports teams. It’s worked with boys soccer coach Ryan Haney. It worked with Geist, and it’s also worked in other sports.

“We are very excited to introduce Scarlett Walsh as our next girls soccer head coach,” said athletic director Joe Zeglinski, who guided the boys basketball team to the state finals this year. “Scarlett is a former D2 All-American and a successful coach and trainer who is ready to lead this already successful program. Scarlett has all the tools to improve our program both on and off the field.”

She just can’t wait to get started.

“It’s all really new to me, but I did talk to some of the girls and we’re excited,” Walsh said. “I know they’re really tough. We have some good players, we have some good ones coming in. We can’t wait to get started.

“I remember playing on Friday and Saturday nights, under the lights. It was a huge thing for us and it’s going to be a huge thing for the girls. I can’t wait to be there, cheering them on and seeing what we can do.”