Ligonier Valley girls look to carry on winning tradition of soccer team
A new group of girls soccer players is determined to carry on the winning tradition of the Ligonier Valley team. The team's goal is to continue to be a playoff team and to start their own era of success building on what last year's seniors established during the previous four years.
Senior Nikki Davis started the season one assist away from being the school's all time leader in assists and needs 11 goals to be the fourth female to ever score 50 career goals. Junior Jess Anto is the other three-year starter returning who's stepped up in the preseason and seems destined to step into a bigger role this year. Returning starters from last year include senior defenders Phebe Cornell and Abby Salancy and sophomore midfielder Madie Glista. Seniors Cait Michaels and Jenna Collins, juniors Emily Bucklen, Zoe Bergman and Nicole Cramer; and sophomores Molly Horrell, Emily Long, Emma Ryan and Madee Lillicotch round out the list of players. Helene Bloom will take on the varsity goal-keeping duties.
Lauren Cassler, a Ligonier Valley soccer alumae and one of the girls to score 50 career goals, is an assistant coach this season after playing four years at Carlow College in Pittsburgh. Jake Gula, who was a four-year star for the Ligonier Valley boys team, is a volunteer assistant coach.
The team suffered a 6-1 loss to AAAA powerhouse Altoona in the home opener.
Davis scored the loan goal for Ligonier in the second half, an unassisted tally. Davis played a strong game start to finish.
Sophomore Madie Glista also had a very strong game in her first game in a new midfield role. Bright spots from several of the new starters began with keeper Helene Bloom. She was rock solid, making 27 great saves in her starting debut.
Center back Nicole Cramer played 7 5⁄80 minutes and got stronger as the game went on. Senior Jenna Collins showed new levels of aggressiveness. Returning starters Phebe Cornell and Abby Salancy finished very strong and seemed to poised to lead the defense into the next game. Ligonier got good bench minutes from junior Zoe Bergman and Brooke Sieminkewicz and sophomore Madee Lillicotch.
The team will play host to North Star 7 p.m. Friday at Standard Bank Stadium and will travel to Conemaugh Valley for a game 5 p.m. Monday.