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McKlveen steps back between pipes for Derry girls

| Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, 10:48 p.m.
Derry assistant coach Tim Downey explains a play during girls' varsity soccer practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Derry assistant coach Tim Downey explains a play during girls' varsity soccer practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.
Derry's senior Abbi Stipcak, background, pours ice water on fellow senior and teammate Hannah Moyher to stay cool during girls' varsity soccer practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Derry's senior Abbi Stipcak, background, pours ice water on fellow senior and teammate Hannah Moyher to stay cool during girls' varsity soccer practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.
Derry girls' varsity soccer head coach Mark Curcio talks to his team during practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Derry girls' varsity soccer head coach Mark Curcio talks to his team during practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.
Derry senior Grace Hackman guides her team through a defense strategy during girls' varsity soccer practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Derry senior Grace Hackman guides her team through a defense strategy during girls' varsity soccer practice Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 at Derry Area High School.

Moiya McKlveen will be happy to have a little extra space to work this fall. Following a year of playing in the field, McKlveen played goaltender during indoor soccer last winter.

Getting that experience was vital for McKlveen, who last played in net as a sophomore.

“It was about building my confidence back up and believing in myself again,” McKlveen said. “Not getting frustrated when I mess up. I have to understand I'm not going to be as good my senior year because I took a whole year off.”

Most players on the Derry girls soccer team will be in the same spot as McKlveen, trying to find a way to be comfortable. Eight of the 17 players on the Trojans' roster are incoming freshman or players who haven't played the sport before.

This comes after a season where Derry set a program record for wins by finishing with a 10-5-1 mark. The Trojans lost in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs to Avonworth on penalty kicks.

“Our slogan this year is forward focus,” Derry coach Mark Curcio said. “It sounds cliche. We would be doing a disservice by saying last year, last year, last year.

“Whether it be developing newer players or the returning letterwinners setting new goals, we want to improve the team moving forward. We have a lot of players who were off the bench, and filler players are getting a chance to start now.”

McKlveen has the challenge of replacing Maya Hackman, who plays at Allegheny College. Hackman finished her career with 22 wins and was chosen as Derry's first All-WPIAL player last season.

Having played the more up-tempo indoor game gave McKlveen a boost. Being able to play in front of a bigger net hasn't been too tough of a task.

“It's not that big of an adjustment because you have more room to move,” McKlveen said. “It makes it easier to play outdoor than indoor. In the past couple days, I've been working with the goalie from last year and gave myself tips to use during the game.”

Utilizing her experience will be a plus.

The Trojans also return some talented players in front of McKlveen.

Senior forward/midfielder Grace Hackman is a returning all-section standout. Defender/sweeper Hayley Barnhart and midfielder Alex Nuttall also are returning starters.

Curcio is counting on them to work together. Keeping a solid mental approach will lead to the best results.

“I basically have to keep focus, work my hardest and not give up,” McKlveen said. “If a goal goes in, it's not (all) my fault. There are 10 other players on the field. I always have to try my hardest. I can't block every goal, but I have to keep focused, and it's all basically a mental game.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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