Lady Leps return experienced bunch
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the Belle Vernon Area girls' soccer program.
There are the 10 straight playoff appearances, the six section titles in the previous eight seasons, and the numerous players who have gone on to continue their careers in college.
But the one thing that had always eluded the team and ninth-year Coach Paul Sasko, until last year, was a berth in the PIAA playoffs.
So what will the Lady Leps do for an encore?
The team returns seven starters from last year's team that went 18-4-1 and shared the Section 4-AA title with South Park, lost in the WPIAL semifinals to eventual champion Mars, and lost in the first-round of the PIAA playoffs to Mercyhurst Prep.
“The first goal is to always make the playoffs,” Sasko said. “We want to win the section title, make a deep run in the WPIALs and make the states again.
“Expectations are always high. The team has potential but has to work hard to realize it. The most important aspect is that we work together as a team.”
Leading the way for Sasko will be a pair of All-WPIAL players a year ago in senior Ashly Gagliardi and senior Hayden Pascoe.
Gagliardi recorded 14 shutouts last season while Pascoe had 30 goals and has netted 74 for her career.
The other returning starters include senior defenders Maggie Lewis and Stephanie Morgan, senior-midfielder Kelsy Lawson, and junior-midfielders Caitlin Caldwell and Samantha Mendicino.
According to Sasko, the other starting positions are not set, but that is a good thing for the team.
“We have several positions open and with some depth,” he said. “There is experience returning and it is very competitive, especially in the back (on defense).”
Midfielders in the mix to start include senior Sarah McCullough, junior Ally Demko, and sophomore Meghan Lovett.
Other defenders vying for a starting position include junior Carley Askin, and sophomores Courtney Hryko, Sarah Sepesky, and Marissa Zetty while sophomore goalkeeper Kaity Watson will also see time in goal.
Sasko said a trio of seniors, midfielders Emily Gagliardi and Shannon McCulloch and fullback Elizabeth Durigon, will also see some time. There are several sophomores and freshmen who will push for playing time.
So what will determine if they Lady Leps can replicate last year's success?
“We need new leaders to step forward and lead us, on and off of the field,” Sasko said. “We are in a tough section with South Park and EF, who has two Division I midfielders.
“The section is going to be solid.”
Joining BVA, EF, and South Park in Section 4 AA is East Allegheny, McGuffey, Thomas Jefferson, and West Mifflin.
The Lady Leps open in the South Fayette Kickoff Tournament Saturday at noon when they'll play Waynesburg.
Bill Hughes is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lots of high hopes for area boys’ booters
- Gateway girls soccer coach cautiously optimistic about season
- Baldwin boys soccer determined to gain playoff berth
- Balsam back to lead Baldwin girls soccer’s defensive corps
- Gateway boys soccer team aiming for postseason
- Large soccer squad prepares to compete in Ligonier
- Thomas Jefferson boys coach anticipating ‘breakout year’ for Dhaubhadel
- Fox Chapel girls soccer under new leadership
- Penn-Trafford boys soccer aiming for playoffs
- Jeannette girls soccer team is young, ready to go
- Jeannette boys soccer adopts team-first mindset