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Greensburg Salem girls soccer ready for next step

| Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

It's time to take the next step — the step that leads to the postseason.

That's the goal of the Greensburg Salem girls soccer team heading into the 2013 season.

The Golden Lions finished the 2012 campaign with a 9-9 record and a 7-5 mark in section play, narrowly missing out on a berth in the WPIAL playoffs.

Yough, Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland were the postseason qualifiers from Section 1-AA last year, and new Greensburg Salem coach Kevin Hutchinson expects those teams — along with his squad — to be in the running for the three available playoff spots.

“There's going to be a fight for those three spots,” Hutchinson said. “I'm pretty confident we'll be able to grab one of them.”

The Golden Lions lost three starters to graduation and will be without midfielder Kellie Hutchinson — the coach's daughter and an 11-goal scorer in 2012 — this season as well. She suffered a knee injury at an offseason basketball camp.

“(Losing Kellie) weakens us in the middle,” Hutchinson said. “But we have some decent freshmen who will try to fill her shoes.”

Without Hutchinson, the Greensburg Salem midfield will be comprised of freshman Katie Wojtus, sophomore Mary Markle and seniors Sam Allen and Sarah Heberling. Markle had three goals last season.

Up front, the Golden Lions have a pair of experienced players in senior Ali Sheffler, a four-year starter, and junior Sydney Taylor, a three-year starter. Sheffler netted 10 goals last season, and Taylor added six.

Defensively, Greensburg Salem will be counting on its back four of seniors Ali Wilson and Sienna Shoup, sophomore Hope Creamer and freshman Emily Indof.

“They work together really well,” Hutchinson said of his defensive corps. “They have a lot of speed, which helps out a lot.

“They communicate with each other, and they bring a lot of enthusiasm on the field.”

The last line of defense for the Golden Lions is junior goalkeeper Taryn Siix. This season will be her first as a starter.

Greensburg Salem scored twice and held Valley scoreless in its only preseason scrimmage. The team's second scrimmage — a home date with Allderdice — was cancelled because of poor field conditions.

The Golden Lions were scheduled to open the regular season Wednesday with a section game at Mt. Pleasant.

As the 2013 season gets under way, Hutchinson's message to his team will remain the same as it's been throughout camp.

“If we stay together, we'll be fine,” Hutchinson said.

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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