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Senior leads on both ends of the field for Knoch girls team

| Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

When it comes to soccer, Knoch High School senior forward Gabi Lassinger is the total package. Offense, defense — she does it all.

Lassinger, 17, leads the Knights in goals with 12. Despite being a star offensive player for Knoch, she has verbally committed to Division I Lafayette College to play defense. She will sign her letter of intent on Feb. 5.

She'll line up in the back at Lafayette for a simple reason: She's also a shutdown defender, a detail her Century United cup team knows all too well.

As a third-year center defender, she was noticed by Lafayette recruiters while playing for Century United, an organization based in the South Hills. The team travels throughout the United States and regularly plays in college showcase tournaments.

“It's different than high school, because the (game) outcome doesn't matter as much,” Lassinger said. “It's mostly a lot of individual (play), as well as team.”

Playing on offense for one team and defense for another isn't all that complicated. Lassinger actually considers the arrangement beneficial.

“I think that it's nice I play center defender at Century, and I play forward at Knoch,” she said. “It makes me more well-rounded. When I play offense, I think about center defender and vice-versa. ... It makes me appreciate more what everyone (else) is doing besides myself.”

As far as Knoch soccer goes, the Knights improved significantly from last season. One year after going 11-8, they're already 12-3-1 overall and 10-2-1 in Section 2-AA play.

Lassinger's versatility has been on display since her freshman year. During her first two seasons, she played strictly forward. At times during the past two years, however, she has played an attacking midfielder position, which requires her to drop back in time to prevent transition opportunities for opponents. Her conditioning has to be at its highest level. That has motivated her to keep in top shape as she heads into her freshman year at Lafayette.

“She's one of our captains,” Knoch assistant Amanda Sharbaugh said. “She leads by example. When she's on the field, she's not a vocal player. She leads more by example.”

Lassinger has been out the past four games due to injuries to her chest and ribs. She is expected to return soon.

At Lafayette, located in Easton, Lassinger says she plans to major in chemical engineering.

“I visited there last fall, and it was the last college I visited,” she said. “As soon as I went there, I fell in love with the campus and the team. ... It was the top academic school, and Division I soccer, and that's my dream. As soon I was there, I knew I wanted to go there. I didn't need to visit anywhere else.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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