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Latrobe girls hope style of play results in victories

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Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Latrobe midfielder Allison LaDuke dribbles upfield versus Southmoreland during their match Saturday, August 31, 2013, in Latrobe.
Top high school sports
By Ed Phillipps
Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013, 8:39 p.m.

The Latrobe girls soccer team won't be kicking it old school this season.

Instead, the Wildcats will employ a ball-possession style commonly referred to as modern soccer. Kicking and chasing has been replaced by a disciplined style meant to maximize each possession and control the flow of the game.

“If you look at the modern style of play, it's one of getting the ball, keeping the ball, keeping the ball in play, and not giving the ball away,” Latrobe coach Vincent Pimpinella said. “Possession is the name of the game.

“Traditionally, a lot of high school teams never really implemented true systems of play with a possession mindset. Teams just play getting the ball down the field as fast as possible.”

The Wildcats return a host of talent to employ their style of play, among them Class AAA All-Section 1 midfielder Allison LaDuke. The Wildcats finished 10-8 overall and 7-5 in section play last season.

“We're all really excited for this season,” LaDuke said. “We're hoping to make the playoffs for the first time in a while.

“We have a lot of returning letter winners, a lot of upperclassman this year. It's definitely helping us with our confidence and playing with each other.”

In addition to LaDuke, the Wildcats return nine other starters: defenders Rachael Reed, Ava Petrosky, Claudia Torrillo and Hannah Mears; midfielders Emma Kate Womack, Madison Mueseler and Brooke Baughman; goalkeeper/defender Stephanie Kubus; and forward Rachel Campbell.

While they did not lose much talent, the Wildcats are without last season's leading scorer, Julie Slezak, and all-section goalkeeper Jane Piontkowski.

Pimpinella said those players will be missed, but they can be replaced.

“In my opinion, we will probably score as many goals, but those will be distributed more,” he said. “We're getting goals in training sessions from a wide variety of players. Last year, we got goals from a small population of players. The modern system of play creates opportunities for more than strikers.”

If Pimpinella's assessment of the section is any indication, he will need all the scoring he can get. He said the team's balanced approach should fare well, but they will have to perform at their best.

“I want to make it clear I absolutely respect all the competition in our section,” Pimpinella said. “We by no means feel like we are going to walk over or beat everyone in our section. I'm very optimistic, but extremely respectful of the teams in our section. We're going to have to earn every goal and every win. I don't see any easy wins on our schedule.”

Ed Phillipps is a freelance writer.

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