ShareThis Page

Franklin Regional girls finding success in new section

| Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, 11:41 p.m.
Franklin Regional's Katie Gvozden (2) moves the ball during a game in Latrobe on September 5, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Cassidy LeDonne (8) stops the ball during a game in Latrobe on September 5, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Franklin Regional's Katie Gvozden (2) fights for possession with Latrobe's Sarah Fox (24) during a game in Latrobe on September 5, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Franklin Regional is a reigning WPIAL girls soccer section champion. Even with a new section home, the young Panthers are out for another title.

Moved from Section 3-AAA to Section 1-AAA, the Panthers have only eight juniors and seniors on a 33-girl roster.

“We're probably one of the younger teams in the section,” coach Rich Garland said. “But I'm real pleased with the level of talent. We're trying to implement a style of play and get it ingrained, but they're coming along well.”

The Panthers (3-1, 2-0) scored a total of 19 goals in their first four games.

Defensive midfielder Katie Gvozden, striker Courtney Hanchey, goalkeeper Kristen Moore and outside backer Karli Popko serve as senior captains.

“There's not that many seniors on the team, and we all start and we all play the majority of each game, so we just try to make everyone work hard for each other and work together,” Moore said. “We definitely try to set a good example.”

Moore was named all-Section 3-AAA last season, Hanchey is arguably the Panthers' top offensive threat, Garland calls Gvozden “one of the fastest players I have ever coached,” and Popko was moved to fullback to shore up the defense.

The anchor of the Panthers' back line is junior Cassidy LeDonne.

“She's a real force on the field,” Garland said. “She's fast and skilled and provides a lot of leadership. If we need a goal, she might be switched up to midfield because she can be a very dominant player there as well.”

Sophomore Jackie Cepicka, junior Gionna Fonseca and freshman Bria McMahon also are part of the midfield unit. The attacking Cepicka scored two goals in Franklin Regional's 7-2 victory at Plum last week.

“She's a real strong player in the midfield,” Garland said. “She controls a lot of the play, plays a lot on the attack and contributes in her own zone. She's fun to watch.”

Among the sophomore class, Melanie Renda joins Hanchey as one of the Panthers' top scorers. Morgan Vensel and Hannah Smith played extensively on the back line as freshmen last season and are poised to take the next step, Garland said.

“There are a lot of underclassmen contributing, which is definitely different from past years because there's usually been more upperclassmen,” Moore said. “But most of them are bringing more talent. We need a lot of kids that can play a bunch of different positions, and our sophomores and freshmen are providing that.”

Franklin Regional edged Fox Chapel and Gateway for the Section 3-AAA title by going 10-2 last season, but the Panthers went 2-5 in nonsection games. Included among those defeats were losses to Section 1-AAA co-champions Norwin and Penn-Trafford.

This season, the Knights and Warriors are section rivals.

“They're the standard, two teams that put the rest of the league on notice,” Garland said. “You want to be able to compete against teams like that.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.