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High School Sports

Serra exceeds expectations

| Sunday, Oct. 14, 2001

Before the season started, the Serra Catholic Lady Eagles soccer team was asked to make a list of goals.

Coming off a 3-13 overall record, including 0-12 in section 4-AA, the expectations were modest.

'They said they wanted to win 50 percent or more of their games,' said assistant coach Brother Bradley LePage. 'Seeing how they had done last year, I thought that was a fair estimate.'

'Last season was an ugly season,' said coach Bruce Patterson.

Things have changed quickly. The Eagles are 12-3 overall and 8-3 in section 4-AA, good enough to clinch a playoff berth and to allow Brother LePage to alter the team's goals.

'Our new goal is to win half of our last four games,' LePage said before Wednesday's 5-0 victory over North Catholic. 'If we do that, we should secure second place.'

Patterson said the team learned a lot from last year's struggles. The addition of sisters Chrissy and Michelle Manfredi also has helped tremendously.

The Manfredi sisters transferred to Serra this year from Thomas Jefferson. Younger sister Michelle Manfredi is among the WPIAL leaders in scoring with 38 goals and 18 assists.

Patterson has an equal amount of praise for Chrissy Manfredi, a defensive player.

'She is an excellent athlete and defender,' says Patterson, 'She has good ball skills and knows what do to with it.'

Michelle Manfredi currently is averaging three goals a game, something very new for a sophomore forward in her first year playing offense. She said that she feels the move has been good for her.

'It gives me more of a chance to score,' Michelle Manfredi said. 'And I feel like I have contributed more this year than before.'

Though both girls started in soccer fairly early in their lives, this is the first time that both have played together on the same team. Both of the Manfredi sisters enjoy their time together on the soccer field.

'We appreciate each other,' Chrissy Manfredi said. 'I think that helps us contribute to each other's play more.'

The sisters have also enjoyed playing for coach Patterson.

'He's really positive and never is negative,' Michelle Manfredi said. 'He's always cheering us on and giving us inspiration.'

'He's nice and really fair,' Chrissy Manfredi said. 'He tries to treat all of his players equally.'

Despite clinching a playoff berth with their victory Thursday against North Catholic, Patterson insists that he hasn't begun to think about the WPIAL playoffs yet.

'I don't like to take anything for granted,' Patterson said. 'We still have to win a couple of games.'

Though talk about the playoffs hasn't started yet, LaPage speaks positively about the Lady Eagles' potential.

'If we play our game with a good strategy, I think that we have the ability to beat anyone.'

The success this season also is a building block that could help the program in the future. Both coaches have noticed an increased interest.

'When we first started, we had barely anyone,' LePage said. 'Now the parents are eager to come.'

'The fan interest around the school has been tremendous,' Patterson said.

That also could lead to more players coming out and joining a very young team. Of the 21 players on the current roster, only seven are seniors.

'If we could just attract a couple of more students who play soccer, we'll be fine,' Patterson said.

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