Clinched: Carlynton girls soccer headed to playoffs
Some coaches might be concerned when their first season leading a squad produces only two wins.
But Carlynton girls soccer coach David Zinski knew his team had nowhere to go but up.
“I knew what we had coming back and what we had coming up from the junior high team,” the second-year coach said. “I thought we could be good. My goal was to finish third in the conference but I will take making it to the playoffs.”
The Cougars (8-7-2, 7-6-1) wrapped up a fourth-place finish in Section 3-A last week with a pair of 2-0 wins over Seton-La Salle, which was battling Carlynton for the final WPIAL playoff berth from the section.
“It is amazing,” junior goalkeeper Ricki Rodriguez said. “I saw it was going to be a different season in camp. Everyone showed up and said we want to win this year. Everyone came in and tried their hardest.”
The 2013 season is only the second time in the past decade that the Carlynton girls soccer team reached the playoffs. The last was in 2007 when the Cougars went 10-8 and fell to Beaver, 3-0, in the opening round.
The team's 8-7-2 record is also the only winning record for the program in the past 10 years – and equals the wins of the last five years.
The other playoff-bound teams from Section 3-A include Bishop Canevin (12-1), Avonworth (12-2) and Vincentian Academy (9-3-1).
The season didn't go entirely smooth for the Cougars. The team started the season 2-3-2 as it worked to find a rhythm.
“We kind of gave up in some of the games during the beginning of the year,” junior defender Haley Doherty said. “We still had the loser mentality. We had to work on that.”
Carlynton was able to turn it around to win six of its final 10 games of the season.
The team's increased level of play clearly showed in the final stats. After the team scored only 11 goals in 2012, the Cougars finished with 43 this year.
And after giving up 58 goals last season, the team gave up 31 in 2013.
“They have actually played the game this season,” Zinski said. “They have been able to connect passes and just not play kickball. Instead of just reacting to what is going on they are playing.
“We told them if they do what they are supposed to, there is a good chance we will likely win.”
While there is no guarantee of what the playoffs hold, the jump in play from Carlynton may be a preview of what is to come. The team only loses two seniors – only one which is playing due to injury – and has a good flow of junior high players coming up through the system.
If the team can keep its development going, the loser mentality of the past may become a distant memory.
“They talk about it in practices and teachers ask them about it at school,” Zinski said. “We have gotten more interest from people and they are coming to watch us play.
“That is good for the girls. After getting their butts kicked for a few years, people are noticing the team.”