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North Allegheny girls soccer enjoying sweet start

| Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, 11:03 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Lauren Briggs battles Pine-Richland's Marissa Hombosky for a header during the first half Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Amanda Miller scores past Pine-Richland goaltender Leah Roth during the first half Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pine-Richland's Maggie Shope collides with North Allegheny's Emily Lyon during the first half Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Pine.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Gabby Smychynsky (right) heads the ball over Pine-Richland's Amanda Kalin during the first half Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Pine.

Watch out for the North Allegheny girls soccer team, specifically senior goalkeeper Maddie Martin.

And that also means at the concession stand.

“We like to compare, ‘Do you eat fried chicken before games or chocolate?' ” said Martin, who has six shutouts in 10 chances for the undefeated Tigers. “We have fun with it, but I honestly think all those calories help us play better.”

While coach Danielle Borkowski isn't likely to copyright her goalkeeper's pregame diet, a constant splurge that has also included pizza, pepperoni rolls and milkshakes, it's hard to argue with the results considering how dominant the Tigers have been in the defensive zone.

Martin allowed her first goal to a section opponent during Monday night's 6-1 win at North Hills and has given up just four in 10 matches so far for North Allegheny (10-0, 6-0 in Section 2-AAA).

“I think they're starting to believe they're good players,” Borkowski said. “They're working together, jelling and becoming a better team.”

Will it be enough to push NA past the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, the place where the Tigers' season has stalled in seven of the past nine years?

Junior defender Emily Lyon thinks so.

“Our goal right now is to win the section and to go a lot further in playoffs than we did last year,” said Lyon, who's one of seven returning starters from a team that finished 12-6 but lost to Gateway, 3-0, in the first round. “We know we're better than being eliminated in the first round.”

If nothing else, the Tigers are a different team than last year.

With 2012 leading scorer Maddie Layman, an All-WPIAL midfielder, now at Duquesne University, the scoring is more spread out.

Forward Amanda Miller and midfielder Savana Yurick lead the way with six goals and five assists apiece. Lyon has five goals. Midfielder Alexa Mermigas has four goals and three assists, forward Lauren Briggs three and three.

“A lot of them are what I like to call ‘universal players,' ” Borkowski said. “They're athletic, they know the game, and they can step in. They don't care; as long as they're on the field.”

Lyon anchors a back line that also includes Monica Pike inside. Hannah Stoof, Gabby Smychynsky, Gabby McFarlane and Angela Marisco rotate at outside back.

Martin made nine saves in a 1-0 win at Hampton on Sept. 18. She made six more three nights later vs. Seneca Valley in a 1-0 win.

All of this while maintaining a pregame diet that's more befitting of a birthday party than a soccer team's coming out party.

“I don't run very much, but I think everyone else just deals with it,” Martin said. “We're used to it at this point.

“We try to keep it as not serious as possible before games, so when we get on the field, we're all serious and ready to go.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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