Keystone Oaks Lady Golden Eagles soccer off to 3-0 start
The Keystone Oaks girls soccer team accomplished something in the first week of the 2012 season that it hasn't done since 2004.
It wasn't a 10-goal win or a win over a highly ranked team or even over a bitter rival.
It was picking up back-to-back wins.
“People came up to me after the second game of the season and were shocked,” second-year Keystone Oaks coach Frank Accetta said. “I have been coaching the sport for around 18 years and to know this team hasn't been 3-0 in 10 years or haven't won back-to-back games in a couple of seasons is surprising.”
The Lady Golden Eagles have started their season 3-0. The early success includes 3-0 wins over East Allegheny and Carlynton and a 4-0 Section 5-AA win over Carrick.
The success is a drastic change from last season, when the Lady Golden Eagles finished 2-16. The squad didn't get its first win until five games in and had to wait six games after that for the second win. Accetta decided to try to get as many players experience as he could last season and allowed them to go through their growing pains.
“A lot of the sophomores and juniors got playing time last season as freshmen and sophomores,” Accetta said. “They got a lot of varsity experience. Teams usually sit freshman and sophomores but I wanted to play all the kids I could.”
The quick start by Keystone Oaks has been fueled by junior midfielder Jackie McCarthy, who had a two-goal game against Carrick. She is joined by Julia Canello, a player who has had no problem finding the net early in the 2012 season.
“(Canello's) brother (Dominic) was an all-world player at Keystone Oaks,” Accetta said. “I guess she has it in her blood.”
The offense also is fueled by junior Amy Coombs and freshman Kara Hoffman. The 10 goals scored so far this season are a massive improvement for a squad that was shut out in 14 games last season and scored a total of 11 goals.
Rachael Evans is one of the biggest returns on defense. The senior is a team captain and leader of a unit that has helped shut down opposing offenses early in 2012.
“Last year, it would make you nervous when the other team would start driving down the field,” Accetta said. “Now, a lot of the players have played more than 20 games and have a better understanding of what to do.”
Junior Melissa McCarthy returns to the net after missing all of the 2011 campaign with a concussion.
“With her back in front of the net, the defense is really taking shape,” Accetta said. “I don't know if we will be able to hold up against the bigger schools but we sure will be competitive.”
The bigger schools Accetta mentioned are the new teams the Lady Golden Eagles will face in 2012. Keystone Oaks and South Fayette were moved from Section 4-AA and into Section 5-AA. The new competition includes Carrick, Obama Academy, Quaker Valley and three teams that competed in Class AAA last season: Moon, Montour and West Allegheny.
“I like it because it is less travel but the quality of teams went up,” Accetta said. “But some of these teams come from a lot bigger schools. Don't get me wrong, I don't want my team to lay down and let another team to win. It is going to be hard to compete with the numbers.”
Keystone Oaks will look to find a way to battle through Section 5-AA and keep the success it found early in the season going.
Since 2004, only three of seven Lady Golden Eagle squads finished with more than two wins, and one of those was due to McKeesport forfeiting two section games in 2009.
While the 3-0 start is an exciting development for the program, Accetta wants his players focused on the bigger picture.
“I want the team to be 4-0,” Accetta said. “I want them to get confidence from these wins. But I don't want them to be complacent. I want them to realize they can go out there and compete.”
Keystone Oaks returns to the field Monday, when it hosts to South Fayette at 7:30 p.m.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.