Daily News Spotlight Athletes: Serra's Alex Grace, West Mifflin's Taylor Lapko
School: Serra Catholic
Claim to fame: Outside midfielder Alex Grace scored his second and third goals of the season in a 3-1 victory over Section 1-A foe Winchester Thurston last week.
“Alex is a good kid,” coach Don Sabol said. “He's a team player. He has a good shot and is a good passer. We are very fortunate to have seven freshmen come in this year. Four of them are going to have an impact right away and Alex is one of them.
“He knows how to use his body and his height well. He's 6-feet tall and handles the ball really well and knows how to use his body and his height to maintain control of the ball when he's challenged. He's a really smart player.”
When did you start playing soccer?
I started playing as a kid. My dad was a referee and he was really into it. Also, all four of my brothers played, so I always played with them. I think I started when I was 5.
Were you nervous going into your first high school season?
Yes, a little bit being a freshman and starting on the varsity team. In middle school, the game wasn't as fast or as physical. You have less time now. You have to take a touch or two and move the ball along quickly.
What would you like to accomplish this year?
I would like to win the section and then hopefully win WPIALs. Serra won it last year, and I hope we can keep that momentum going.
School: West Mifflin
Claim to fame: Lapko netted a hat trick as West Mifflin routed East Allegheny, 8-0, in a Section 4-AA game last week. She also set up both goals in a 2-0 victory over McGuffey two days later. With the wins, the junior helped the Titans even their section record at 2-2 and lift them to 2-3 overall.
“We graduated a lot of girls last year and we tabbed Taylor as who would have to pick up the scoring for us,” coach Greg Bourke said. “She's done a great job for us so far. She leads the team in goals (3) and assists (4). She takes all of our corner kicks, and I rarely sub her. She's on the field for the whole game.”
How long have you been playing soccer?
I have been playing soccer for about eight years. I got into playing because my brother played, and I was always going to his games. I would watch him play and that made me want to play. Now I just love the sport.
Do you play any other sports?
I also play softball. I definitely like soccer more but it's hard to choose between the two. I love them both, but I definitely have more passion for soccer.
How did it feel to score a hat trick?
I was very excited. That was my first hat trick ever. The first (goal) definitely was my favorite because it went in off of a corner kick. I was kind of shocked that it went in.
— Robert Stinner