Greensburg Salem girls soccer showing more strength, skill in early-season workouts

September 7, 2018 GMT

In the second year under coach Michael Rhea, the Greensburg Salem girls soccer program is hoping to rebound after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

The Golden Lions finished 3-15 overall, including a 3-9 record in Section 2-3A.

Greensburg Salem netted only 29 goals and was shut out in nine games, allowing 58 goals.

However, Greensburg Salem will return the majority of the starting lineup this season. The Golden Lions will look to replace graduated goalkeeper Kendra Kennedy with junior Becky Handke, and expect others to fill in the void left by defender Caileigh Chappell.

“We’ve started overall stronger this year. The team is better in shape and better in tuned with the skill work. Overall, it’s a better group of girls. I think they get along. It’s a pretty good team,” Rhea said.

“I think there is always going to be room for improvement, and changes are to be made and can be made. We’re trying to boost the program and make it successful.”

The Golden Lions will be led by a trio of seniors, including sweeper Autumn Sarsfield, stopper Nikki Mellinger and defender Emma Turin. Junior forward Maddie Gall also will contribute.

Rhea expects contributions from senior forward Mackenzie Soriano and junior midfielder Riley Stoner. Seniors Katie Leonard and Emily Roble and junior Erika Christeleit will man the back line.

The senior class has been working to make sure last season’s season is well behind the program. Rhea has been pleased with how the upperclassmen have taken the underclassmen under their wings to carry out his message.

“We have this group of girls that are mentoring our younger girls. They are working together as a group and supporting each other. That comes back to the older girls that come through the program and are pushing the younger girls to do their best,” Rhea said.

“This group of girls really push the underclassmen to be the best that they can be.”

Rhea is excited about the prospects of adding assistant coach Jordan Eicher, a 2011 Greensburg Salem graduate, to the Golden Lions’ coaching staff. In college, Eicher was a defender at Waynesburg.

“She brings a whole new level of confidence and skill to the game, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Rhea said.

After realignment, the Golden Lions will remain in Section 2-3A. Greensburg Salem will still need to deal with Elizabeth Forward and Belle Vernon, who finished first and second in the section last season. The section also still includes Laurel Highlands, Uniontown and Albert Gallatin.

The only change is the departure of Mt. Pleasant, which qualified for the playoffs last season, and the addition of Ringgold, which finished sixth in Section 3-3A last season.

The Golden Lions start their season at home with a nonsection test against Trinity at 10 a.m. Sept. 1.