Debo keeps scoring touch going for Edinboro
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Early this season, one of the Edinboro University women's soccer team's opponents made a prediction about Fighting Scots forward Liz Debo, the top goal-scorer in the Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference in 2012.
“(They) said that because Liz is now the focal point, she's not going to score as many goals as she did last year,” Edinboro coach Gary Kagiavas said.
That opponent is currently right, but on a technicality. With 11 goals, Debo is three away from her mark from last season, enough to rank her second in the conference behind Tara Huber of Bloomsburg.
Either way, Debo's scoring continues to provide Edinboro with a lift as the Fighting Scots (12-5-1) prepared to open the PSAC tournament with a home game against Shippensburg on Tuesday afternoon.
“The kid can play,” Kagiavas said. “She's just a good player, and she works really, really hard.”
Kagiava said Debo, a 2011 Norwin High School graduate, succeeds mainly through her hard work.
After getting named to the All-PSAC first team, Daktronics All Atlantic Region first team and National Soccer Coaches Association of America All Atlantic Region second team last season, Debo worked even harder in the offseason to prepare herself this year.
“I believe any athlete can get better no matter how good you are,” Debo said. “During the summer, I worked a lot harder. I ran a lot more, and (Kagiava) saw that. He knew that hard work would pay off. ... I'm just trying to get better each year.”
And the success is continuing this year despite near-constant double teams. Last season, opponents put the bulk of their defensive focus on Karisa Fernandez, who ranks third all-time in goals and second all-time in points in Edinboro history.
With Fernandez gone to graduation, that focus turned to Debo this season. Not that she minds entirely.
“For (coaches) to know I have that caliber of play and put two defenders on me ... it's more competitive, and I love more competition,” she said.
The extra space Debo creates helps her teammates, as freshman Alex Brown has seven goals and junior Becca Costello has six.
But Debo continues to succeed as well.
“A lot of players have power on the ball, but I'm definitely a player that likes to place the ball (and) chip it over the goalie,” she said. “I definitely have confidence going into the goal. I don't (psych) myself out or anything. I definitely think because I've been playing for so long, it just comes naturally.”
Kagiava said Debo's leadership is also growing, even though she's not a captain for this season's team.
“(She) said to be a leader, I don't have to be a captain,” Kagiava said. “Her mentality and her growth as a person is fantastic.”
Debo is hoping to lead Edinboro, the No. 4 seed in the PSAC Tournament, to a conference title this season after the Fighting Scots fell short in the semifinals last season. Edinboro made trips to the NCAA Tournament each of the past two years, the first two visits to the NCAA Tournament in program history.
Last year, Edinboro fell to Slippery Rock, 2-1, in a shootout in the first round of the tournament.
The Fighting Scots will look to avoid a similar fate this season.
“We worked so hard in that game,” Debo said. “I almost had a goal in the overtime, but it didn't go in. Then in the PKs, I went first (and) made it, but we just couldn't capitalize on anything else. I think it's definitely a big motivator and hopefully we can go further.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.
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