Quaker Valley girls soccer team sports new look in preseason camp
A change in scenery has led to Quaker Valley girls soccer coach Mike Pastor changing his priorities a bit for this year's preseason camp.
The Quakers are changing sections for this year, moving to Section 3-AA after an 18-2 season finishing at the top of Section 5. They'll be taking on Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell and Montour in the newly realigned section.
The change has led to a stronger focus on fitness for this year's camp.
“It's nothing short of a brutal section, with the defending state champ — Central Valley — in the section,” Pastor said.
“There will be a lot of good teams that don't make the playoffs, and we want to embrace that and be one of the teams who do make the cut.”
After meeting for voluntary captains' practices through the summer, the girls reconvened Monday for the start of two weeks of two-a-day practices at QV Stadium, with a morning and afternoon session each day. Various fitness assessments will be held at the beginning of the week, with a focus on the fitness levels of individual players rather than the team as a whole.
With so many practices in a short time, it's important to avoid too much repetition in drills or wasting time simply running.
“Most of the fitness we do is game-appropriate fitness,” Pastor said. “It's more built into the skill and the kinds of sessions we plan. In other words, they're getting a lot of fitness without knowing they're getting fitness.”
In addition to the training they may not be aware of, the players have a say in what the rest of camp will look like. The coaching staff has placed an emphasis on helping the girls figure out for themselves what is important to them.
“We try to give the kids some ownership in terms of the practice itself and how hard they want to work,” Pastor said. “When we talk about goals and what they want the season to look like, it's easy to get them to do the fitness when they're the ones deciding what the level of fitness is going to be.”
After losing to South Park in the WPIAL quarterfinals last season, the Quakers graduated six starters, or more than half of the lineup.
“It's more turnaround than normal,” Pastor said. “We had a strong team last year at 18-2. We're a little younger than we were in years past so I suppose we're cautiously optimistic.”
All-WPIAL senior goalie Molly Harkins and forward Megan Amoroso are returning as senior captains, and All-Section junior Moriah Wigley will provide plenty of scoring punch.
The starting midfield positions in particular will be up for grabs throughout camp. Pastor hopes to have his lineup nailed down by the end of next week.
He'll have his first look at this year's squad in its first scrimmage Monday against Fox Chapel.
“Especially with a team like Fox Chapel, a quality Class AAA opponent, we want to measure ourselves against them and see how we stand,” Pastor said. “In a scrimmage it's not about wins and losses but about seeing where we are and what kids are going to step up.”