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Connellsville girls soccer out to improve on last year's 5-12 showing

| Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 11:24 p.m.
Jason Black | Daily Courier
Angela Bloom and the Connellsville girls soccer team are looking for a better record against Section 1-AAA opponents this season.

Each year, Connellsville girls soccer coach Jeff Puskar looks for his team to make positive steps from the year before. This season, the Falcons could be in position to make a significant leap.

Connellsville lost some talented players to graduation but has many experienced players returning. Plus, the Falcons will get a boost of talent from what is expected to be a very strong freshmen group.

“We talk about climbing the rungs on the ladder and taking it one step at a time,” Puskar said. “You have to plug in some different girls and hopefully everybody meshes.”

Connellsville began this season with positive steps thanks to wins in the Fayette County Coaches Association Tournament on Saturday. The Falcons beat Fayette County rivals Albert Gallatin and Laurel Highlands, and will look to continue their strong start when they open play in Section 1-AAA Wednesday at Hempfield.

“Last year, we didn't win a section game,” Puskar said, reflecting back on the 2012 season that saw Connellsville post an overall record of 5-12. “We want to be around .500 in the section. That would be a good start.”

Connellsville's biggest strength appears to be on offense. The Falcons will feature Ashton Grimm, who led the team in scoring as a junior last season. Grimm is expected to play more in the midfield, away from her customary striker position. She is excited about her team's potential in 2013.

“I'm expecting better than previous years,” Grimm said. “I think we can compete with teams that we couldn't compete with before. We've done a lot of conditioning and that will help us in the extra minutes. I think we are coming together and we're working on connecting our offense and defense.”

Junior Angela Bloom, senior Rebecca Grimm and freshman Kenzie Grenell are also expected to be key offensive contributors. The Falcons should also feature speed on the outside with the additions of freshmen Allie Grimm, Anna DeMarco and Morgan Trout. Junior Kaitlin Knopsnider will also help on the outside.

Connellsville doesn't expect to have problems with goal scoring, but preventing them has been an issue in the past, and Puskar is hoping that begins to change.

“That was our big weakness last year, and we're trying to improve on that,” Puskar said.

Senior Caitlin Fess will play sweeper. Senior Madison Dialesandro and Brittany Craig, junior Margaux Klingensmith, sophomore Keirsten Andolino and freshman Chloe Guie will try to bolster the back end. Senior Marian Chearney and junior Ally Ramsey are the top candidates in goal.

With many pieces in place, Puskar is hoping that the Falcons can produce a season to remember.

“I'm real excited,” Puskar said. “We're doing a lot of dynamic things offensively. Our ninth grade group is nice and if we can shore up our defense, we'll be in some games. We want to be competitive in all of our games.”

Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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