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Penn-Trafford girls target another section title

Doug Gulasy
| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Norwin's Kensey Johnson (3) and Penn-Trafford's Casey Aunkst (23) fight for control during a game in Harrison City on October 10, 2012. 
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Norwin's Kensey Johnson (3) and Penn-Trafford's Casey Aunkst (23) fight for control during a game in Harrison City on October 10, 2012. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

As a two-time defending section champion, Penn-Trafford girls soccer coach Rick Nese knows his team will get opponents' best effort in all games this season.

That's why he spends time before the season getting his players ready for it.

“We've been practicing for (more than two weeks), and we prepare for it every day when we're out at practice,” Nese said. “We try to constantly raise the bar in competing against each other because we know that's the type of effort we're going to get from everybody, all of our opponents, every night.”

Penn-Trafford will kick off its regular season at the South Hills Kickoff Classic on Friday and Saturday. The Warriors will play South Park at 8 p.m. Friday and Bethel Park at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Coming off a season where they finished 13-5, including 11-1 in Section 1-AAA play, the Warriors enter the 2013 campaign with high expectations.

“Right now, we're healthy,” Nese said. “We have a lot of important parts of the team that returned from last year to this year. We've got some freshmen that are going to be able to step up and help us. It's going to be a tough section. It's going to be a tough job, but we've got to be prepared for it.”

The Warriors will begin the season with one of the deepest, most experienced lineups in Class AAA. Penn-Trafford has key seniors at every position on the field.

Goalie Kayla Dipaolo will anchor the team's defense after being named all-section last year, but she'll be helped by a strong defensive corps that includes seniors Kayla Novosel and Michelle Ruoff and junior Karina Wallace. Junior Casey Aunkst, a 2012 all-WPIAL selection, and senior Morgan Casario can play either midfield or defense.

Junior midfielder Kristina Wallace will play a major role, while junior Kristen Swope can play both midfield and forward. Up front, senior forward Jordan Beretta returns after missing last season with an injury, and sophomore Maggie Mastrogiacoma will look to continue her growth after being one of Penn-Trafford's top goal-scorers last season.

Junior midfielder/forward Italia Bondi, a transfer from Greensburg Central Catholic, and a pair of freshmen, midfielder/forward Athena Bondi and midfielder/forward Ryley Watt, will also play key roles for the Warriors this season.

“We're going to probably have from 18 to 20 girls that we're going to be able to put in there and not miss a beat,” Nese said. “It's going to be fun.

“(And) the girls are prepared for that,” he added. “They understand that they're starting the game, but their substitute's going to be able to come in and give them a breather (and) we're not going to see a drop in play. That's an advantage we're going to have. The girls are going to know their roles, and they're accepting them.”

After competing in the South Hills Kickoff Classic this weekend, Penn-Trafford will play a nonsection game against Pine-Richland at 4 p.m. Tuesday before kicking off section play with a game at Kiski on Wednesday.

Nese said the Warriors begin each season with the goal of winning the section, which became more difficult last season with the addition of Franklin Regional. After a first-round playoff loss to Canon-McMillan last season, however, Penn-Trafford also has postseason success on its mind. The Warriors advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA tournament in 2011.

“A lot of the seniors and juniors that we have on our team now played an integral part in that run,” Nese said. “So they already know that you've got to bring it every night. People are going to be out there bringing their best game against you, so I think they're prepared mentally.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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