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Springdale girls hoping for another magical run

| Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012, 12:16 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Springdale girls soccer coach Jerry Concannon goes over a drill with his team during practice Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Springdale's Emma Whelan participates in a drill during practice at the high school on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

Springdale's 2011 season was just short of magical — very short.

After navigating a brutal nonsection schedule and taking third in Section 4-A, the Dynamos entered the postseason with a respectable, but underwhelming, 10-6-2 record and subdued expectations.

But Springdale fought its way to both the WPIAL and PIAA finals, before settling for a pair of silver medals.

“Last year was special in a lot of ways,” Springdale coach Jerry Concannon said. “There's a little of that feeling of coming up short, but speaking with players and (assistant coach) Kelly (Schaults), that season puts a smile on our faces. We exceeded expectations and when you do that, there's nothing to be ashamed of.”

If the Dynamos are to shoot for the top once again this season, they'll need to do it with a radically restructured roster.

Gone are seven senior starters, including three who are playing college soccer: Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year Krista Edwards (Westminster) and VND all-stars Erin Gilmartin (Point Park) and Erica Roney (Point Park).

Chelsey Adams, another VND all-star also graduated, as did Kim Watterson, who is on the Syracuse track team.

Key to the Dynamos' hopes will be the return of senior center back Marissa Sarsfield, who has committed to Division I Cleveland State.

“I think we have a lot of potential,” Sarsfield said. “We're relatively young; there's a lot of freshmen coming in. But we're already improving a lot.”

Sarsfield is in the final stages of recovery from offseason knee surgery and hopes to be cleared to play soccer within the next couple of weeks.

“We have pre- and post-Marissa game plans,” Concannon said. “We do need her to be on the field.”

Senior forward Sydney Smajda, one of the team's top scorers from last season, also will be relied upon to provide a steadying presence and reliable goal-scoring threat.

After that, it is anyone's guess. Of the Dynamos' 24-player roster, 10 are freshmen.

“I'm confident that the young players coming up can play the game; it's the subtle things, the nuances, that they'll have to adapt to,” Concannon said. “I look at it as a fun challenge.”

• Valley is another storyline to watch. Is this the year it breaks it's 92-game losing streak? Things may already be pointing in that direction. The Vikings defeated Kittanning, 3-2, in a scrimmage Wednesday. Kittanning is fielding a team for the first time since 1999. Coach John Macura thinks his senior-laden team has what it takes to win when the games count, too.

“They want to end (the streak), the girls want to be a part of that,” he said. “It's a goal that we have. We know going into each year that we're probably not going to be one of the standout teams in our section, not right away. Our biggest accomplishment is going to be ending that streak.”

• On the heels of a strong 2011 campaign, Knoch (16-2-2, 11-1-2) again looks to be a threat to Mars' dominance atop Section 2-AA. After a breakout season in 2011, offensive sparkplug Olivia Sharbaugh will be a key contributor.

• After narrowly missing out on the Section 3-AAA championship last year, Fox Chapel (14-4-1, 9-2-1), returns three all-section players in senior Jessie Thiessen and juniors Lauren Kelly and Theresa Scheiffarth.

Stephen Catanese is a freelance writer.

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