Yanief connects for team-high 20 goals in solid season for Thomas Jefferson girls
Thomas Jefferson's girls' soccer team finished with a flurry in the second half of the season — for the second year in a row.
The Lady Jaguars won their final four games — by an overall scoring margin of 22-1 — and went 7-2-1 in the second half of the season.
Thomas Jefferson ended up 9-7-1 overall and 6-5-1 in Section 4-AA.
In 2012, the Lady Jaguars won seven consecutive games at the end of the season to end up 10-7-1 overall.
“I think it was a productive year for us,” Melissa Allan, TJ's second-year head coach, said. “At the begining of each year we set some goals. This year, our first goal was to be competative. I believe we did that more times than not. Second, was to have a winning record. This was very important to us as we felt having a second winning season in as many years was vital for a program on the mend and in the rebuilding process.
“So to finish 9-7-1 overall and with a winning section record, we felt was a huge accomplishment.”
Alexis Yanief led the team in scoring with a 20-goal performance this season.
Yanief, a senior forward, sparked the Lady Jaguars to wins over McGuffey (1-0), Hempfield (5-0) and West Mifflin (5-1) down the home stretch, before wrapping up the year with an 11-0 triumph against East Allegheny.
“Alexis is an outstanding athlete. She makes her presence on the field well known with her speed and toughness,” Allan said. “Her speed is truly unmatched. She can be yards behind a defender and as her momentum builds she gets faster and is able to gain possession of the ball.
“With (Alexis) in the game, we always had the potential to score. She is no doubt a game changer. I absoluetly loved coaching her.”
Yanief was joined in the starting lineup by junior forward Emma Hendrick; at midfield by seniors Tatum Fabian and Katie Sullivan, sophomore Veronica Napolitano and freshman Tara Sullivan; and on the defensive end, by juniors Riley Walsh, Paige Conley and Leah Scott, and sophomore Hannah Wardlaw.
Senior Tori Cotter was the starter at the goalkeeper position.
Among the top reserves for the Lady Jaguars this year were senior midfielder Holly Fetters and sophomore forward Angelina Manning.
Cotter registered seven shutouts and was backed up by Rachel Maiden, a senior goalie who saw action in the second half of some of the shutout decisions.
“When I took over (in 2012), I said it would take five years to get this program back to where it should be,” Allan said. “I still feel that way, and I truly believe the framework for that is being laid brick by brick.”
Five members of the team served as co-captains — Katie Sullivan, Fabian, Cotter, Hedrick and Wardlaw.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.