Central Valley girls working to maintain winning streak
Players on the Central Valley girls soccer team are under a daily pressure to perform, one that most teenagers don't have to face.
It's been four years since the Warriors have lost a WPIAL Section 3-AA game. The win streak stands at 45 games, already something on which coach Mark Perry can hang his hat.
“We know that winning streak is going to come to an end eventually,” Perry said, “but to come this far, that's an accomplishment.”
Seeing that streak end this season wouldn't sit so well with some of his players, notably senior captain and defender Ashley Mutkus.
“We don't want to be the seniors that lose a section game,” said Mutkus, an All-WPIAL selection last year. “We haven't lost one in four years, and I don't want it to be our class.”
Perry sees no need to add extra pressure to this season. He has been quick to stamp out some of the hype that has circulated the district after last season's fourth-place finish in WPIAL Class AA.
“We were very young,” Perry said. “We started seven freshmen last year, so it was a surprising run.”
Young is still an appropriate way to describe them. Although they return 10 starters this year, seven were freshman last year. Among the returning upperclassmen starters are Mutkus, senior co-captain Katie Alexander and junior Katrina Fratangeli. Freshman standout Carolina Lucy also has made an impact.
So while this youth points to continued success, it also brings difficulties for this year.
Roster depth is the biggest challenge Central Valley faces. A lack of reliable subs could prove to be a weakness as the season moves on.
“(Preseason) was hard actually because everyone knew they had their position almost,” Mutkus said. “There wasn't too much of a fight.”
According to his seniors, Perry has pushed fitness on the girls more than ever. He doesn't want to see his team fade after a 5-0 start.
“We only have two games a week right now,” Perry said, “but we do have some weeks coming up with three games, and eventually, I think that's going to take its toll on us as the season goes on.”
Through it all, the players seem to be following the coach's lead.
“Last year, as the season went on, we kept struggling because we had all these new freshmen, and they weren't used to playing so long,” Alexander said. “This year, even though everyone's used to it, he doesn't want what happened last year to happen again.”
So whether it means giving players a day off or hopping in on the football team's music-infused Thursday practices, Central Valley is doing what it can to keep its players fresh and inspired to keep their streak alive.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.