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Local teams ready to roll in girls soccer

 

Ryan goalie Alana Verello allowed one goal during the regular season last year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Girls soccer is very good in Philadelphia.

And it doesn’t get much better than the schools in the Northeast.

The local high schools have plenty of talent and trophies to show for it. Last year didn’t produce any titles, but it was still a good year. And this year, there’s potential for even more success.

Here’s a look at the local teams.

CATHOLIC ACADEMIES LEAGUE

Nazareth Academy

The Pandas went 6-9-3 last year while playing in a brutally tough league, and still Dan Bradley’s team held its own against very good competition.

This year the team has a chance to move up the standings in the Catholic Academies League, led by a midfield that consists of Kayla Kinniry, Jenna Garzone, Abby Rock and Annaleise Steiner.

The defense will consist of Grace Reteneller and Reese Power, and they’ll play in front of goaltenders Gracie Sullivan and Leah Edinger.

Offensively, the Pandas will look to Ava McNamara, Alanna Scancella and Devon Cheeseman to provide the scoring.

They’re still in a tough league, but the Pandas have the pieces to put together a successful season.

“Our biggest strength is our strong leadership from our two seniors, Kayla Kinniry who has been a four-year starter and Jenna Garzone,” Bradley said. “We are young but they have a lot of talent. The work rate has been great from every single player, which will pay dividends in the tough Academy League. Team first is our motto.

“I am excited to watch this team grow from our JV program to varsity. Our goal is to be playing for our league championship as well as districts and states. This is a special group of young ladies who represent all that Nazareth stands for.” 

CATHOLIC LEAGUE

Archbishop Ryan

The Ragdolls are one of the best programs in the area, and last year was another great one. Ryan went undefeated during the PCL regular season and allowed just one goal during the campaign, but fell to Archbishop Wood in the championship.

The Ragdolls expect success and this season is no different.

Leading the way will be forwards Natalie McFadden and Ally Davis. The midfield will include Chelsea Ritter and Anna Lombardi.

Ryan should be strong in the back, too, with Carly Walsh, Sam Pastino and Morgan McFadden. And Alana Verello will be the goalkeeper.

Last year was a great start for coach Scarlett Walsh. This year could be even better.

We will have a strong midfield this year led by two seniors, Chelsea Ritter and Anna Lombardi. I’m looking forward to see how they are able to control the game while providing guidance to our younger players,” Walsh said. “We will be strong down the center of the field with the all-senior-led crew of Chelsea Ritter, Anna Lombardi, Carly Walsh and Sam Pastino.

“I am looking forward to seeing how our seniors adjust to different roles they are playing this year and how our younger players will develop under their leadership.”

Bella Torres started at Springside-Chestnut Hill Academy as an eighth grader. She’s now a starter at Little Flower. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Little Flower

The Sentinels had a reason to struggle last year. They came into last year having missed the previous season due to the pandemic. That probably explains why Little Flower, which is always among the top-tier teams in the Catholic League, finished 2-6. 

Markos Pittaoulis believes this year will be a better one. 

The Sentinels will be led by midfielders Hayden Johnston and Bella Torres. And on offense,  they’ll rely on strikers Olivia Bradley and Rylee Sundermeier.

Little Flower will get better as the season goes on. Pittaoulis remains optimistic. 

“We’re working on it,” Pittaoulis said. “We’re a talented, younger team with a positive outlook, and working hard every day to reach our goals.”

St. Hubert

The Bambies battled hard last year, finishing 4-3-1 in Catholic League play. Coach Nettie Graziosi-Hibbs has the talent to enjoy a better season this year, despite losing some key seniors from last year’s squad.

The team will be led by midfielder Mia Tobin, who will have Lorenza D’Andrea, Gianna Anderson and Delaney Newhouse by her side.

The Bambies will also have an experienced defensive line, including Caitlyn Rawley, Sam Kinniry, Devin Ginter, Riley Roesner, as well as Luca D’Andrea and Grace Smith. They’ll play in front of keepers Clare Dunfee and Bailey Berkery. 

The team will look to Ang Kinniry for scoring. She’ll work with three talented freshmen, Alyssa Browning, Fallyn Lydon and Bridie Musial.

The Bambies are raw, but there’s plenty of talent. The longer their season goes, the better they’ll be.

Although we have little experience playing on a high school team together, almost every player has at least one Bambi teammate on their club team,” Graziosi-Hibbs said. “With that established connection, we have been able to start off with a high level of energy and focus on defining, and working towards our goals and identity this season. We have solid defenders this year who communicate well and an offense who know how to put the ball on goal. Overall, we can tell the communication and unity feels great.

“We have a lot of soccer knowledge within the team. Our players are intrinsically motivated to learn, develop and find success throughout the season. We have a really good chance at making it far and ending up in a good place if we keep the team spirit high and practice with intent. We’ve consistently had good feelings about approaching seasons, though this season definitely has a uniquely positive feel.”

PUBLIC LEAGUE

Abraham Lincoln

The Railsplitters played an abbreviated schedule last year, and made it to the postseason before falling in the first round. This year, Paul Cammarota has a good group of senior leaders who could help the Railsplitters win in the postseason.

The seniors are Delaney Vazquez, Marian Gameli and Mariaclara Moreira, and according to Cammarota, their leadership will help the team succeed. 

“A strong interest by some talented ladies in school has sparked a renewed interest,” Cammarota said. “If all the girls come back with the same intensity that we ended the year with, I feel we could be very competitive in our division.

“Twenty-two girls expressed interest at the end of the school year, with the possibility of incoming freshmen who are interested, we should be able to put together a nice group of ladies who will have fun and be competitive.”

Franklin Towne Charter

As long as they’re playing, the Warriors are always a threat to win the Public League championship. With the exception of the year wiped out due to the pandemic, Franklin Towne has been a mainstay in the championship game. Last year despite missing the previous season, the Warriors were in the title game. 

This year, that’s once again the expectation.

Deb Ounan’s squad will be led by Kassie Sullivan, who will play center midfield. Up top, the Warriors will look to Gabby Greenley for goals.

Ounan is happy with her leaders, and she always expects to contend for the championship.

“Franklin Towne will be led this year by two strong seniors Kassie Sullivan and Gabby Greenley, whose hard work and dedication have earned the respect of their coaches and teammates,” Ounan said. “They will be supported by a deep team of returning sophomores and juniors. 

“We are working to have a strong season in the Philadelphia Public League and hopefully compete for a championship.” 

Northeast

The Vikings had a solid season last year, and coach Elizabeth Murphy expects even better things this year. And she has some talented athletes to make that improvement a reality. 

Northeast’s offense will be led by Skylynn Rivera, as well as Chosen McClain and Suela Tahiraj.

The midfield will consist of Chloe Cerdan, Amina Bakr, Janeth Marca, Tasnim Sabil, Amani Aljuboori, Agnes Woz and Sharlyn Paredes.

The defense will include Heiddy Guaman, Korinne Davis and Yervghena Pierre, and Velicka Anderson will be the keeper. And Yerlin Garcia will serve as the manager.

According to Murphy, strong team communication, as well as a great goal scorer, will help Northeast have a strong season.

“It’s always good to be underestimated,” Murphy said. 

Rush

It’s been a great run for Rush, which has put together consecutive undefeated regular seasons. This year, the team will play up a division, so the competition will be tougher, but so will Rush.

Coach Todd Corabi will look to goalkeeper Mia Siner to lead the way. She’ll be supported by midfielders Madison O’Neill, Leo Bertolino and Kristen Lawrence.

The offense will be led by Kyra Siner, and the defense will be anchored by Abigail Foy and Isabelle Clarke.

“Our team is using a slogan this year ‘practice with purpose, play with passion,’ ” Corabi said. “As long as they do that, it will be a successful season and I’ll be proud of them.”   

MaST 1

The Panthers won six games last year and qualified for the district playoffs. A good season last year will put the experienced players in position to have another solid campaign.

Kylie Murphy will lead the offense, and according to coach Shannon Ryan, she can do many other things on the field as well.

Jacqueline Gardner is now playing goalkeeper for the Panthers, and so far has been great in her new role. And midfielder Sophia Zanetich is a leader and a steady player for MaST.

The pieces are there for a successful season.

“(I’m) looking forward to my first year as a head coach, coaching a sport and group of girls that I love,” Ryan said. “I look forward to growing as a coach and educator.”

MaST II

The school has yet to taste victory, but the Panthers have played only six games. Last year was the first year competing, and the hopes are the second year will be more successful. And they’re working hard at making that happen.

Coach Taylor Dillon will look to Robin Charlton (center midfield) and outside halfbacks Hailey Ehmann and Victoria Gonsiewski to lead the team this year.

Building a program isn’t easy, but things are looking good.

“This will only be our second year having a team and our players are growing each and every day,” Dillon said. “They are developing skills and are young but showing more talent than last year. 

“We are looking forward to a great season and great competition. We are trying to develop our athletes to their best abilities. This league is a great way to build their abilities, being a competitive league.”

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