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Eden Christian teams, athletes finding success in WPIAL play

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:30 p.m.
Eden Christian Academy sophomore Carter Ehms watches his approach on a par-3 hole during the WPIAL Class AA individual finals at Youghiogheny Country Club in McKeesport on Sept. 24, 2012. Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Tribune-Review

In their second year in the WPIAL, the Eden Christian boys soccer and girls volleyball teams are showing signs of improvement.

The boys soccer team, which entered the week 5-6 overall and 3-4 in Section 3-A, already has won more games than it did a year ago, when it was 3-12-0 overall and 2-10-0 in Section 1-A.

“There's still a lot of progress to be made,” coach David Mohr said.

A girl is among the team's starters; junior Paige Clary is an outside defender.

Eden Christian does not have a girls soccer team.

Also leading the way have been seniors Gabe Manges, Matt Koster, J.D. Laird and junior Nate Hammerele.

The girls volleyball team, which started the week 4-5 overall and 1-4 in Section 4-A, also has better records than it did last season, when its only win came in a nonsection match.

The team celebrated its first section win after beating visiting Cornell, 3-1, last week.

“The girls were so excited, especially the girls who were here last year,” first-year coach Brenda Hemans said. “It was such a relief to get that first win.”

“There definitely was a lot of joy,” said senior Morgan Parees, 17, one of six returning letter winners.

Others back from last year are seniors Mackenzie Schutt and Abby Schogel, as well as sophomores Kylie Ritchie, Maddie Tissue and Ellena Hasley.

Senior Aila Bradford, as well as sophomores Sarah Aiken, Emily Blendermann and Abbie Bazzoli also have been playing.

Besides team accomplishments, there have been bright spots among athletes competing in individual events.

Sophomore Carter Ehms was the first player from Eden Christian to qualify for the WPIAL golf individual championship, where he finished 21st among Class AA boys last week.

With more students showing interest, a boys golf team is planned for next fall, athletic director Steve Good said.

“It will be nice to have teammates,” said Ehms, 15, whose father and grandfather accompanied him to the WPIAL championship.

Junior Carter Smith is a standout on the boys cross country team, also in its second year in the WPIAL.

Smith finished 16th at the WPIAL Class AA boys championship and 28th in the PIAA a year ago.

Freshman Lauren Gronbeck and sophomore Rachel Martin are top competitors on the girls cross country team, which joined the WPIAL this year.

The boys team (0-4) is winless in Section 2-AA. The girls are 1-3 in their section.

“With the boys, there is a major drop-off after Smith,” said Brandon Molisani, who coaches both teams. “Our No. 2 to No. 6 runners are pretty much the same (in terms of ability).

“Depth is an issue with the girls, where we now have only six (on the team).”

Ehms is the No. 2 runner on the boys team.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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