Mt. Pleasant girls soccer to rely on balanced attack
Mt. Pleasant coach Josh Pajak lost one of the WPIAL's most prolific scorers over the past four seasons when Jordan Toohey graduated in the spring.
Toohey, who scored 46 goals last season and had 144 in her career, moved on to play for St. Francis.
Pajak said he isn't sure if he will find another player of Toohey's caliber, but he thinks his team can still have a successful season.
“It's going to force us to have more of a team effort,” Pajak said. “Not that it wasn't a team effort before, but now we're going to have to be more balanced. In some ways, this could make us a better team because we're going to have to get more players involved in the scoring.”
Pajak expects big things from a pair of seniors: center midfielder Eileen Brady and defender Kasey Brown. Brady and Brown each have started the past three seasons.
“Eileen's game has improved every year,” Pajak said. “We're looking for her to take another step and for her to take her game to a higher level. We moved Kasey to defense this season after she played in the midfield. We plan on using her in the attack and having her jump in the play a lot. These two girls have been really good leaders since they've been sophomores. They've organized practices when I've been on vacation, and they've also organized extra practices. They're definitely leaders on this team.”
Junior Courtney Zelmore will start in goal. Sophomores Anna Billey, Lexi Grosser and Ally Kaputa will see plenty of minutes. Zelmore started in goal as a freshman.
“She has experience under her belt, and we expect no drop off in play,” Pajak said. “She's an excellent goaltender. We shouldn't miss a beat there.”
Bailey will line up at midfield, Grosser at forward and Kaputa on defense.
The Vikings will compete in Section 1-AA along with Derry, Greensburg Salem, Indiana, Southmoreland and Yough. Mt. Pleasant has finished as section runner-up the past three seasons.
“Yough is going to be good because they bring a lot of players back, and they have some talented playmakers on their team,” Pajak said. “I anticipate Greensburg Salem and Southmoreland will be tough as well.”
Last season, Mt. Pleasant finished 11-6-2 and lost to South Park in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. The Vikings face Yough in their section opener Monday.
“We just have to be more balanced this season,” Pajak said. “We can't just rely on the home run ball, so to say. We have to build the attack, and everybody has to get a foot on the ball. We're going to try to use all 11 players instead of attacking with one or two players.”
Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer.