Freeport girls soccer team in position to return to playoffs
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It wasn't long ago that the Freeport girls soccer team was a familiar sight in the WPIAL playoffs.
But return to the postseason after missing out for the past two years might be on the horizon after Freeport pulled itself into a three-way tie for second place in Section 2-AA on Monday with its third straight section win, 4-2, at Indiana.
The Yellowjackets (6-4-0, 5-2-0) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in section play the last two years, but the team now is deadlocked with Highlands and Knoch with the section schedule halfway completed.
“It's really exciting because we haven't made it that far, and I'm really confident in my team,” senior striker Erica Jack said. “When I was a freshman, we made the playoffs, so now being one of the leaders of the team, it feels really good to have a chance at it again.”
From 2001-10, the Yellowjackets reached the postseason seven times, the WPIAL quarterfinals four times, and twice earned a berth in the PIAA tournament by reaching the semifinals. This year's team has placed itself in good position to end the short dry spell this season, its first under coach Maura Allen.
“It's definitely an improvement from last year, and a lot of the girls are really excited about our team,” Allen said. “We do have a ton of potential this year, and we've seen it from the very beginning. Even our freshman coming up are strong, so I'm excited for that, too.”
The Yellowjackets have been finding the net more this season, as they have 31 goals in their first 10 games compared to 25 all of last season. Freeport's top two scorers are its two starting strikers, Jack and junior Megan Manke.
“I think our strength has definitely been in our forward line,” Allen said. “Those two (strikers) have the speed and skill to get behind their defenders, and for us, it's just about capitalizing on those opportunities they create. If we do that, we're good to go.”
Freeport also has a veteran group in defensive roles. Seniors Dava Jack and Stephanie Scheestel and junior Macy Crytzer and Lauren Arnold handle much of a defensive work, while senior Devin Malarik and junior Natalie Martin also start in the midfield.
Behind them is a time share in net, where junior Mayson Kiser and sophomore Raine Carney have split goalkeeping duties, often with each playing a half in each game.
“We have a very strong defense, where my twin sister, Dava, plays,” Erica Jack said. “They've been really good back there for us this year, and Megan Manke and I have always worked well together up top. It's been going real good for us.”
Some younger players contribute for the Yellowjackets in midfield roles, including freshman Olivia Gaspersic and sophomore Katlyn Biondo. And like the rest of the starters, they are expected to play a sound game and be ready to go the full 80 minutes.
“We're looking to be strong in both halves and working a lot on our first touch (on the ball),” Allen said. “Sometimes the smallest things will kill you in a game, so we're working on getting that first touch where we want it.”
For Freeport to extend its winning streak, it would take an upset win over undefeated Mars on Wednesday. From that point, the Yellowjackets finish up with six winnable section games — including one each against Highlands and Knoch — as they push to get back into the WPIAL playoffs.
“Now that we've seen how everyone in our section plays, we can improve on what we've done well,” Erica Jack said. “We had a few bumps at the beginning, just like every team does, but we've gotten a lot better from the start of the year.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Girls soccer preview: In addition to 59-goal scorer Cartwright, WPIAL champion GCC to feature more variety on offense
- Girls soccer preview: Seneca Valley seniors working together to challenge for 3rd straight WPIAL title
- Boys soccer preview: After winning back-to-back WPIAL titles, Peters Township boys hoping to evolve with younger lineup
- New coach instills fresh attitude in young Penn Hills soccer team
- Senior leaders take reins for Quaker Valley girls soccer
- Defending section champ Ringgold returns just three starters in boy’s soccer
- Late start isn’t worrying Ringgold girls soccer coach
- Experienced Sewickley Academy boys have lofty goals
- BVA girls poised for another big year