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Playoffs are the main goal for Butler girls soccer team

| Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Butler girls soccer team's 8-8-1 record last season was objectively average.

But for a program that had won nine total games in the preceding three years and hasn't posted a winning record since 2005, it represented a significant step in the growth process.

Now, coach Steve Perri wants a winning season — and more.

“I would say the team's main goal this year — and I think it should be a pretty achievable one for us — would be a playoff berth,” he said.

“Then, obviously, if we won one playoff game, we'd have probably been exactly where we expected to be, maybe even a bit further.”

To do that, he'll rely primarily on seniors Rachel Weyand and Macy Stalnaker, for both production and leadership.

Weyand will move into a more defensive role this season after playing midfield and forward a year ago.

Perri said he hopes to see her push the attack from the back and pick up key points where she can.

Stalnaker will be looked to as an anchor of the offense. The West Virginia-bound forward was Butler's leading scorer in 2012 with 13 goals.

“We hope that she gives us the same amount of production and possibly a little bit more,” Perri said.

“If she does do that, I don't think that our goals are at all out of reach.”

Beyond those two players, Perri hopes added depth can make a difference for a Golden Tornado team that finished 3-8-1 in WPIAL Class-AAA Section 2 last year.

Butler will replace four departed seniors with 16 freshmen. And while Perri doesn't expect any one in particular to make a big impact right away, he expects some to work into starting roles by the end of the season.

Most importantly, he said he'd feel comfortable with many of them spelling starters from time to time, a luxury he didn't always have last season.

Stalnaker and Weyand will be among those tasked with bringing the underclassmen along, and Stalnaker plans to lead with an unselfish attitude.

“I am hoping to step up not only in practices but games, hopefully helping other people score and thinking of others, not just myself,” she said.

If her efforts pay off, Perri hopes Butler can avoid wearing down late in games as he believes it did last season.

With a deeper bench, his offensive star is confident more complete efforts should be in store, which could be the determining factor late in games.

“I think we have a talented, more solid team than any of the others in the section,” Stalnaker said.

“And I'm hoping we can just pull through, be more physically fit playing the whole game, all out.”

Adam Bittner is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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