Butler girls soccer continues rebuilding
TribLIVE Sports Videos
It was one small step for the Butler girls soccer team, but not the giant leap the Golden Tornado wanted.
Butler (8-7-2) finished the fall with its first winning season in eight years. Yet, the squad just missed out on qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs — a goal second-year head coach Steve Perri hoped to achieve this year.
“I think all of the players and coaches leave this year thinking the step we took was great. We didn't want to just take a step. We wanted to take a leap. I wish the seniors could have experienced that,” he said.
“Things are headed in the right direction.”
The Tornado last advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs in 2003. That year, the squad fell in the WPIAL semifinals and dropped a 1-0 decision to Owen J. Roberts in the PIAA title game.
Since then, the program has struggled. Before Perri took over last fall, Butler went a combined 3-30 — including 0-24 in section play — in 2010 and '11. The team started its turnaround last year and finished 8-8-1 overall and 3-8-1 in the section.
This fall, the Tornado achieved the winning record and narrowly missed the playoffs by two games. Butler finished fifth in Section 2-AAA behind Hampton (6-6) and Pine-Richland (7-4-1). North Allegheny and Seneca Valley both wound up atop the standings at 10-1-1. One goal decided four of the Tornado's section losses.
“We were competitive in every game,” Perri said. “There's only one game I can look back on and say we wouldn't have had a chance of winning. I am sure in years past, that couldn't be said. Really, if a couple of balls bounce our way in a couple of games, we would be in the playoffs.”
Butler's improvement showed, especially at the end of the season. The team closed the year with a 2-0-1 run, which included wins over Hampton and Shaler and a tie against Seneca Valley, which boosted the team's confidence.
“Not only was the Seneca Valley game our last home game, but it was against a rival. We were winning most of that game until about eight minutes left when we gave up a goal,” Perri said. “That result there will propel this team and the returning girls further than any other game.”
The Tornado graduates four seniors — Macy Stalnaker, Rachael Weyand, Tiffany Stewart and Angela McKnight. Stalnaker led Butler with 14 goals.
“Losing her will hurt. We'll need someone to take over that role. We'll have to have someone step up,” Perri said. “We will miss our seniors.”
Other than Weyand, all of Butler's defense returns. The team started three freshmen most of the year on the backline in Rachael Woessner, Maddie Glew and Skyler Denniston. Junior Mackenzie Troyan played the majority of minutes in goal, and sophomore Hannah Miller saw action as well.
Carolyn Stirling, a junior, and sophomore Chloe Bowser return at midfielder. Sophomore Kayla Widenhofer is back at forward.
“One difference between last year and this is that we were deeper this year. I had more options and depth and that allowed us to do a lot better also,” Perri said. “At times, I started five freshmen.”
It's difficult for young teams to compete in Butler's section, which is annually one of the toughest.
“Coaches in our section talk about the third- or fourth-place teams being better than some second-place teams from other sections. It is definitely a tough section,” Perri said.
“But we have to get through it. In the end, it only makes our section teams stronger.”
Perri is excited to see the program make positive gains.
“These little steps we're taking, we're getting through. It's the start of something bigger. I think this is the start of a good, long run here,” he said. “Even the younger people are interested and invested in this program and are doing what needs to be done for it.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
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.
- South Fayette girls soccer believing it can go deep into playoffs
- High school roundup: Upper St. Clair boys topple No. 1 Canon-Mac
- Belle Vernon, Ringgold play to tie in Section 4-AA showdown
- High school soccer notebook: Plum boys strive to regain form under new coach
- Charleroi boys and girls pick up first wins
- Ringgold blanks McGuffey
- Greensburg high school roundup: Hempfield girls win in overtime
- Elizabeth Forward girls soccer fights through challenges