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Latrobe girls set course for playoff run

| Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Greater Latrobe's Claudia Torillo (18) and Franklin Regional's Karli Popko (4) fight for possession during a game in Latrobe on September 5, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Latrobe's Gina Rock moves the ball against Franklin Regional during a game in Latrobe on September 5, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

Latrobe girls soccer coach Vincent Pimpinella has one goal for his squad this season and that is to make the playoffs for the first time in his five-year tenure.

Pimpinella had a feeling that the Wildcats may be ready to turn the corner after he noticed the girls came into preseason camp more prepared than in years past.

“I'm encouraged with the players' preseason and their preparation for the preseason,” he said. “Latrobe girls soccer is gaining popularity, so girls are taking more interest in being better coming into preseason than just waiting for the school season to get their technical and tactical exposure to the game. That's been pretty helpful to us.”

Latrobe jumped to a 2-2 record this year, and players have shown they are miles ahead of where they were at this time last season.

Pimpinella said the biggest difference from past teams will be a tactical adjustment that he could never implement due to a lack of preparation at the onset of the season.

“We've been able to get players to buy into a style of play which we haven't been able to execute in the past, which is a style of possession of the ball as opposed to play the ball long, chase it, try to win it in the opponents' end and hopefully score a goal,” he said. “We're hoping to find a way to unbalance our opponents versus directly kicking the ball down the field and trying to gain possession with pressure and hopefully finding a way to score.”

The offense will be led by seniors Julie Slezak — who had 19 goals and eight assists as a junior — and Marissa Duvall, junior Allison Laduke and sophomores Rachel Campbell and Madison Mueseler. Junior Rachel Reed anchors the center of the defense with senior Gina Rock attacking the flank and supporting the offense.

Senior Jane Piontkowski and sophomore Stephanie Kubus will split time in net and look to replace Caela Long. Long, a freshman at Swarthmore, was a three-time all-section selection.

“We have some pretty decent opportunities with our seniors, and then our underclassmen have shown some good preparation and good qualities going forward,” he said. “I'm encouraged that the girls want to go out and win some games, and so I think they'll fight to make it as probable as possible.”

When setting the schedule, Pimpinella opted to challenge his team and schedule tougher nonsection games to create playoff-type atmospheres every game.

“We knew that the girls were working hard on their own, whether it was strength and fitness or technical training or league play with other club teams,” he said. “So we made our nonsection schedule more difficult and competitive with more developed teams so that we could test ourselves in every game to help make us better.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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