Chartiers Valley girls soccer team embracing coaching change
When a coach enters his first season of leading a program, it is reasonable to expect a transition period may cause a slow start.
That isn't the case with Chartiers Valley girls soccer.
First-year coachWilliam Douglass has guided the Colts to a 3-0 start with all of the games being shutouts.
“I think everyone is taking to him so well,” senior midfielder Jamie Casto said. “We all love him and respect him as a coach. We would do anything for him. It has brought us together and motivates us.”
Douglass – who is a Spanish teacher at the high school and middle school levels at Chartiers Valley – said the transition into leading the program has been made easier with his position in the school.
“I have known these girls since they were in the sixth and seventh grades and now some are seniors,” Douglass said. “Our relationships just grew being able to work with them outside of the school.”
The secret to his team's early success? Effort.
“I have all the confidence in the world in these girls,” Douglass said. “They work really hard. They deserve the wins they have gotten. They have put the work in since January. Every single practice and every single game they want to win. They have that goal in mind.”
Chartiers Valley was able to record a 5-0 win over rival South Fayette last week – to go along with wins over Penn Hills (3-0), Montour (2-0) and Elizabeth Forward (1-0). The Lions controlled the tempo early against the Colts until junior forward Katie Labos scored at the 26:47 mark of the first half.
“The first 10 minutes wasn't the greatest start to a game,” Douglass said. “But we got into our game and what we have been preaching in practice. We have been trying to close down on space and the girls finally did it and saw results.”
After the first goal, the Colts dominated the rest of the game. Casto added a goal at the 25:42 mark and freshman Morgan Henderson scored with less than four seconds left before the break. Henderson completed the hat trick in the second half with a pair of goals off assists from sophomore midfielder Valerie Mutschler.
“It is nice to see we have depth,” junior defender Emily Tolmer said. “It is good to know we have the younger players behind us.”
The youth movement on the team was in full effect against South Fayette. The team started only three seniors to go along with five juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.
“You want to have balance,” Douglass said. “If you put an entire senior class on the field, what will you fall back on next season? It is nice having some young talent at Chartiers Valley.”
The early slate of nonsection games will prepare the team for the tough Section 5-AAA schedule, whichincludes Peters Township (3-0), Upper St. Clair (2-1) and Canon-McMillan (1-1).
“Having these early games is huge for the team's fitness, playing a full 80 minutes,” Douglass said. “It allows me as a new coach to figure out where players are best suited to help the team and figure out how to bring a bunch of individuals with talent together and put us in the best situation to win.”
The team knows not to be content with what it has achieved early on. In 2012, the team finished the year on a 2-6-1 run and missed the postseason. The year before, a 2-8-1 midseason run eliminated the team from playoff contention.
But that is all in the past and the team is looking ahead. With a new coach on the sidelines and some new faces on the field, Chartiers Valley is in the hunt for its first playoff berth since 2009.
“It feels like a fresh start,” senior forward Katie Burnett said. “We feel like a new team. Playoffs is definitely the goal.”
The Colts return to the field Saturday as they travel to Seton-La Salle for a 2:30 p.m. start.
The Chartiers Valley boys lost a pair of road games last week. The Colts fell to Upper St. Clair, 8-1, and Ambridge, 2-1, to drop to 0-2 in Section 5-AAA play.
Chartiers Valley is 1-2-1 overall after opening the season a 1-0 win over Norwin and a scoreless tie with Baldwin at the Seneca Valley Tournament.
The Colts travel to Peters Township tonight, Thursday, for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.