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Shady Side Academy's White ready for soccer title defense

| Sunday, July 16, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
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Shady Side Academy's Gabby White (left) and Krystina Rytel helped Shady Side Academy win a WPIAL girls soccer title in 2016.

Fresh off a solid performance for the Shady Side Academy track team, junior Gabby White is getting ready for a return to the soccer field.

A defender, she was a key cog in the Indians' run to the WPIAL Class A championship and the state title game, which the Indians lost to Fairfield.

“I've started on summer drills,” she said. “The team conditioning drills have started, and I also go out to my local soccer field to play a little two-on-two with my sisters. I haven't been to any soccer camps this summer, but I have been weight training pretty seriously.”

Her conditioning shouldn't be a problem with her busy sports schedule.

She ran hurdles, the 200-meter dash and the 400 relay for Shady Side Academy's track team. She also played softball, and she plans to try out for the swim team.

This summer, she is looking to improve her footwork and mental game in soccer.

“As a track runner, I have the speed down,” White said. “I'm looking to combine skill with that speed in order to receive the ball and do what I need to do to get it out of our defensive zone.

“I am always looking to improve on my mental game. I would say that playing defense definitely comes with a lot of frustration, as it is the last line before the goal. If we make a mistake, it could end up as a goal for the other team. I think learning how to get over a bad play and correct the mistake instead of hanging onto it and pouting is a huge part of the game. A good player knows how to work with their mistakes and turn them into a learning experience.”

Despite suffering key losses to graduation, White is confident in the soccer team's chances.

“I think the captains for this year (Hannah Steffey and Julie Staley) are going to get this team to where it needs to be,” White said. “We have some new girls and also a new coach coming in, so it is going to take a lot of work to try and match the success of last year. I think we will be a contender for the WPIAL championship.

“Krystyna (Rytel) obviously gets the points on the board while players like Hannah continuously change positions in order to run the game smoothly. All of our players are capable of doing what it takes to benefit the team. We've also got a great sense of camaraderie. Our ability to trust each other has really gotten us far. I don't see why another WPIAL title is possible for such a close knit team.”

Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.

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