Cameron set to lead Belle Vernon girls soccer
Tom Cameron is a coach who takes it game-by-game, which is why beating Belle Vernon last year was one of his goals for the Ringgold girls soccer team.
This year, Cameron's goal is to make sure that doesn't happen again.
After two stints at Ringgold, including the last six years, as well as stops at Charleroi, Albert Gallatin and St. Vincent, Cameron has made Belle Vernon his next stop in his coaching career.
With the program they have and the familiarity with the players as opponents in the past, leading the Leopards was an easy choice.
“First of all, I knew a lot of the girls,” Cameron said. “They have a very solid program. I knew this would be a good opportunity to instead of building a program, just help them win and succeed.
“I just didn't want to restart. This way, we can hopefully improve on what the past Belle Vernon girls have accomplished. I am not saying I am a Paul Sasko at all. What I am saying is, maybe I can give them a different focus. That is what we are looking for.”
The Leopards are coming off a season where they went 10-7-2 overall and 9-1-2 in Section 2-AAA and were co-section champions with Mt. Pleasant. They participated in the WPIAL playoffs but were eliminated with a 1-0 loss to Thomas Jefferson in the first round.
The Leopards' first scrimmage of the season will be against the Jaguars, and while winning isn't a necessity, it would feel nice.
“Even though it is a scrimmage, it will probably set the tone for our season,” Cameron said. “The girls want to atone for that. They felt like the game could have went the other way also. It is a good thing to start out with a team that beat us in the playoffs. I am not saying we have to win it, but we need to go out and do what we are capable of doing and we will be fine.”
Four players Cameron is counting on this season are seniors Lexi Demko, Keelie Selvoski, Karter Temoshenka and Erin Sassak.
Cameron expects Demko to be the Leopards' top goal scorer. Selvoski will play center back, while Temoshenka will be a midfielder and Sassak will be back in goal.
“I am going to look for leadership out of those four,” Cameron said. “Not only do they have to play well, they need to lead by example.”
Belle Vernon will open the season Sept. 2 and recognizing late coach Paul Sasko by hosting a tournament in his honor. Sasko retired after the 2015 season following an 11-year stint at Belle Vernon, winning eight section titles in that span. He died April 2, 2016, at age 55.
Belle Vernon will play a doubleheader that day, starting with West Mifflin at 10 a.m. and closing it out with Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic at 6 p.m.
“We decided to have the Paul Sasko tournament to honor him, since he was such a mainstay here at Belle Vernon,” Cameron said. “We have a couple of good teams coming in. West Mifflin is a very physical team, and North Catholic always has a good ballclub. It is a good way for us to start the season to get us prepared to play in the section.”
Drew Karpen is a freelance writer.