Burrell girls soccer wants to build off last year's success
It was a feel-good story of the 2016 soccer season.
Before an Oct. 3 home game against Highlands, the recording of the national anthem malfunctioned in the Burrell press box.
The Burrell girls belted out “The Star-Spangled Banner” a cappella and soon were joined by the Golden Rams.
The moment went viral on social media and became a story on various newscasts.
The Bucs sang the anthem on two more occasions, including before an Oct. 24 playoff game against Charleroi, the first Burrell trip to the postseason in nine years.
“That made us proud of our girls and proud of our school district,” said coach Shelby Dale Noll. “The girls are exceptionally well-behaved on and off the field, and we hold them to high standards as coaches. It's not that I didn't expect that, but I wasn't surprised, they do nice things like that.”
Burrell ended the season with a 3-2 loss against Charleroi at Penn-Trafford's Warriors Stadium, finishing 10-7 overall and 7-5 in Section 2-AA, good for third place.
The Bucs are hoping last season's success and the playoff setback as a springboard to bigger and better things this year. Nine starters return.
“I have a lot of starters coming back, a lot of seniors,” Noll said. “They have a love of the game and a great camaraderie. They enjoy each other, and we try to promote a positive environment as coaches.”
“I think we're going to be section champs,” said senior standout Morgan Weeter. “I like the new coaches a lot. I think we're going to be really good this year. The younger kids really helped us last year. They had to score a lot, and they helped us make the playoffs, which we hadn't done at Burrell in a long while.”
Noll took over as coach several months ago after Crystal Kosecki resigned to devote more time to motherhood. Noll coached the team in Koseki's absence after she gave birth to a son.
Her father, Gregg, is her top assistant.
One of the WPIAL's youngest coaches at 26, Noll's experience last year made the transition seamless.
“I have some of these players on my cup team as well, and then when I was volunteering for Tri-City,” Noll said.
Even with a heavy morning rain last Friday, Burrell was getting some work in on new wrinkles for this year's attack.
“We're working on set plays to really capitalize on opportunities,” Noll said. “We've changed the formation this year, something completely different than what the girls used before. You really have to take a lot of time to focus on that, positioning, figuring where people go.”
Even with schematic changes, Noll hopes to build on last year's success with players such as Weeter, defenders Leesha Wagner and Kaylee Pagane and midfielder Skylar Dale. Freshmen Annie Weimer and Jordan Kolakowski are expected to contribute, and Maggie Schwartz will move from defense to offense.
Burrell will open with a nonsection game against Indiana before opening the season with defending section champion Freeport.
“We've gotten a lot done,” Weeter said. “I'm really excited for the Freeport game.”
George Guido is a freelance writer.