Veteran BVA girls go for share of crown
Hayden Pascoe, by all accounts, is a fabulous player, one of the WPIAL's top goal scorers.
Lauren Kovalchuk is a respected senior captain, a Division I recruit who is also capable of being an offensive force.
Their coach at Belle Vernon Area, Paul Sasko, is happy they are on his soccer team. But he's just as happy to have an experienced group of stellar upperclassmen on his back line and in goal.
“The goal scorers get the spotlight, and they deserve accolades,” Sasko said. “But it starts in the back with us. Our defense has been playing real well and our goalkeeper has been playing real well.”
The Lady Leps have allowed only five goals all season. BVA is 13-1-1 overall and 9-1-1 in Section 4 AA play as the regular season heads into its final week.
BVA has a big game against Elizabeth Forward on Wednesday. The Warriors are the only team to beat the Leopards this season — 2-0 Sept. 24.
If the Lady Leps can win the rematch, it is assured of at least a share of the section title. And the Lady Leps went 1-0-1 against South Park, meaning it could claim the de facto championship.
Junior Ashly Gagliardi has 10 shutouts in her second year as a starter in goal.
“She's probably one of the top goalkeepers in the WPIAL,” Sasko said.
Gagliardi is — and she's made to look even better by the group of two seniors and two juniors playing directly in front of her. The center backers are senior Heather Wells and junior Maggie Lewis; the outside backers are senior Kylie Kikta and junior Stephanie Morgan.
Among them, that foursome has eight years of starting experience at the varsity level, headlined by three-year starter Wells.
“It's a good mix of players,” Sasko said of his back line. “Heather is extremely quick and fast and also skilled. ... Maggie is just a rock solid defender, just very defensive-minded. It's a very strong defense in the center; those two complement each other really well.
“Then on the outside in the back — Steph and Kylie — Kylie has five goals and Steph is good at stepping up as well.”
Two senior captains play in the midfield — Kovalchuk and Rebecca Buza. Kovalchuk was an all-section honoree last year and has verbally committed to play at Stony Brook University. A four-year starter, she is second on the team with nine goals.
Buza is a defensive midfielder.
“She has great foot skills, and is really a very intelligent player with a high soccer IQ,” Sasko said. “She makes the right play, and she knows where to go with the ball. She's a good distributor.”
Junior Kelsey Lawson is another experienced member of the midfield.
Up front, sophomores Sam Mendicino and Caitlin Caldwell play on the flanks, with Pascoe as the target. Pascoe is a three-year starter.
“She's just a great goal scorer with a high work rate,” Sasko said. “She's good in the air, she takes people one-on-one, she has good speed. She just has a knack for scoring goals; she can find the back of the net.”
BVA has been a regular playoff team over the past decade and won at least a share of its section from 2005-09.
“The girls really badly want to win the section this year,” Kovalchuk said. “We definitely want to try to beat EF on Wednesday and get the section, and from there try to get as far as we can in the playoffs. Hopefully, make it to states.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Steelers’ road show boggles the mind
- Penguins fall to 0-3 after losing to Canadiens
- New Pa. committee members believed to favor bill that OKs online gambling
- 25 arrested in Western Pa., West Virginia child sex trafficking investigation
- Winger Bennett is bright spot in Penguins’ sluggish start
- Mt. Lebanon approves sharpshooters for deer
- Black church leaders meeting in Pittsburgh target unity at Baptist convention
- FirstEnergy turns to dewatering to help solve waste issues at power plant
- Clinton, Sanders go on offensive in Democrats’ first debate
- Development Dimensions International leadership grooming business uses own practices
- Man killed by train in Homestead