Plenty of talent returns for Plum girls soccer team in '12
It has been about a decade since the Plum varsity girls soccer team qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
The 2002 Mustangs finished second in their section that year and played Fox Chapel in the playoffs' first round. A heartbreaking overtime loss to the Foxes put a sudden halt to that campaign.
In the past 10 years, several Plum teams have come close to breaking through in the section, only to fall just shy of the playoff goal.
Several times, it was by one place in the standings, and a tie or one close loss was the difference.
Head coach Mike Proviano said this year can be a different one, as a deep mix of veterans and newcomers join up with the hopes of making playoff goals a reality.
“We're still kind of young, but we're talented and deep,” Proviano said.
“We can go about 20 deep. I thought the depth really helped us out in the scrimmage (last week against Southmoreland). We really wore Southmoreland down as the scrimmage went on. Everyone has meshed really well.”
Injuries have played a part in derailing positive plans in recent years, and Proviano knows that staying healthy is a key again this fall.
“Right now, knock on wood, we're pretty healthy,” Proviano said. “We've had two girls – (sophomore) Alexis Amato and (senior) Megan Reddick – come back from ACL injuries. We've come off two pretty good scrimmages, so we'll see how everything goes from there.”
The team, Proviano said, showed its depth offensively as the Mustangs scored five goals in the Southmoreland scrimmage.
“If we would've scored five goals last year, Aaliyah (Odom) might have had four of them,” Proviano said. “She only had one (in the scrimmage). We're definitely going to be more balanced this year.”
Odom, a junior, led the team in scoring last year with 11 goals.
Joining Odom in the role of a returning starter, Proviano said, include Reddick and senior Kristina Ioannou, juniors Taylor Bowland and Amanda Zimmerman, and sophomores Addie Jacobs and Christine Tamburri.
Also in the mix for starting or playing time on varsity are seniors Kara Ioannou, Jordan Campeau, Mikayla Ferchaw and Emily Kieffer, along with sophomores Alex Pursh, Taylor Dudding, Ali Gipson, Kennedy Lisovich, Sarah Ferragonio, Shannon Greco and Katie McRandal.
A trio of freshmen who are expected to see starting time are Ashley Amato (midfield), Alyssa Proviano (midfield/forward) and Nicolette Casarcia (midfield/forward).
“They come from good cup programs, and they should step in to give us a nice scoring touch,” coach Proviano said.
The goalkeeping duties, coach Proviano said, have been split between freshmen Chelsea Hubner and sophomore Maddy Strohl.
“They are both good goalkeepers, and that is a nice luxury to have,” he said. “At times, six or seven freshmen or sophomores could be starting for us.”
Plum finished last season 4-8 in Section 3-AAA, tied with Penn Hills for fifth place.
The Mustangs again will battle in section play with Fox Chapel, Gateway, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills.
Change came in the form of 2011 section champion Franklin Regional's exit from Section 3. The Panthers now are in Section 1 with the likes of Norwin, Penn-Trafford and Hempfield.
New to the conference are former City League member Allderdice and Oakland Catholic.
Allderdice went 11-4 last year and was 9-0 in City League play. The Dragons fell to Obama Academy, 2-1, in the City League title game.
Oakland Catholic moves over from Section 4, where it finished 8-4 (third place) and qualified for the playoffs behind section champion Peters Township (11-1) and second place Mt. Lebanon (11-2).
The Eagles handed Mt. Lebanon one of its two section losses.
Plum opens its season Friday against Hollidays- burg at the four-team Indiana Tournament. The consolation and champion-ship games are set for Saturday at a time to be determined.
The Mustangs opened last season at the same tournament and split a pair of games. They defeated Indiana 3-1 in their first game and fell to eventual WPIAL AA champion Greensburg Central Catholic, 4-1, in the championship matchup.
“There are a few things the girls can improve on, but they are excited and working hard,” coach Proviano said.
“We've had a couple good weeks of training, and the girls are ready to go this weekend. Our last scrimmage was (Aug. 22), and we got a nine-day break. So the girls will be pretty hungry to get back on the field and play.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.