Apollo-Ridge senior hopes to go out in style at Cager Classic
Sarah Bonelli never scored a goal against WPIAL or PIAA competition, but the argument can be made that she is one of the top soccer players in the Class of 2013.
Few can argue that she is the best girls soccer player ever to come out of Apollo-Ridge, where she goes to high school.
Apollo-Ridge does not have a soccer team, but that hasn't stopped Bonelli from earning a Division II scholarship.
Bonelli, a senior, has signed to continue her playing career at Lock Haven.
That means she will play one of her final scholastic basketball games Saturday in the 17th annual Cager Classic.
Bonelli will suit up for the East girls and, along with Josh Reynolds, will represent her school in the area's renowned postseason all-star event at Highlands High School.
“I think I am playing in the Indiana County all-star game, too,” Bonelli said. “It will be neat to play against players I haven't played against before. You hate the people you play against until you play with them.
“I am excited to play. It's a bonus. I want to go out and let it all out one last time.”
The 48 all-stars mostly are proficient in dribbling, passing and shooting, but Bonelli may be the only one who can pull off that trio in two sports.
Her parents, meantime, are adept from long range.
It's a wonder Bonelli has time to play basketball with the amount of traveling she does with her family for soccer.
“We go all over,” she said.
Last week, she played in a tournament in Virginia.
Bonelli plays for the Century United Cup travel team. A midfielder, she played on a state-title winning team in 2012.
Bonelli said there were drawbacks to not having a high-school team, but she never was short on soccer.
“Soccer was going on during the high school season,” she said. “During the (basketball) season, I was playing (soccer) two or three nights a week.”
It appears Lock Haven recruited her to help spark its offense.
“They said I had potential from left-outside,” said Bonelli, who signed with Lock Haven last month.
“I am left-footed, so they want me to play on the outside and score some goals.”
She also considered St. Francis (Pa.) and Marietta.
On the basketball court, Bonelli averaged eight points, three steals and 2.3 blocks this season.
Basketball has few similarities to soccer, but Bonelli said that running up and down the court helps her get into soccer shape.
One of her coaches thinks one sport helped with the other.
“I think soccer influenced her basketball style,” Apollo-Ridge basketball coach Desiree Syster said. “She was all hustle, all the time. She is very intense and wanted a leadership role on the team.”
She also will keep the two-sport trend going in the spring when she runs track — Apollo-Ridge has track and field.
Bonelli said she will run the mile and compete with the 3,200- and 1,600-meter relay teams.
Her sister, Megan, also plays Cup soccer, basketball and runs track.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.