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WVC Girls Soccer: 2016 Season Preview

September 2, 2016 GMT

By Matt Bufano Staff Writer A new Wyoming Valley Conference girls soccer season begins today with four matches. The league is coming off two triumphant years, in which three of its teams — Coughlin, Dallas, Pittston Area — won district titles. That two-year span also produced two players earning a combined four all-state selections. But, from personnel to the alignments at a local and statewide level, things have changed. The WVC’s usual suspects, though, all appear ready to turn in another successful season. Here are a few storylines to follow as the 2016 WVC girls soccer season unfolds: REALIGNMENT Previously, WVC teams were slotted into three divisions based on their classification (A, 2A, 3A). However, as the PIAA’s classification system changed, so has the WVC’s divisional alignment. All programs in the classifications intended for smaller schools — A, 2A — will compete in Division 2. The rest of the league is classified in Class 3A or (newly created) 4A, and playing in Division 1. So, what does this mean? Well, Division 1 appears to be loaded. While it has only eight teams, five of them are fresh off winning seasons. Division 2 then has nine teams, only two of which — Holy Redeemer and Lake-Lehman — finished with a winning record a year ago. When the postseason rolls around, the classification expansion means more soccer will be played. Instead of three district and state playoff tournaments, there will now be four. WELCOME BACK Defensive specialists like Paige Davis (senior goalkeeper at Coughlin) and Lexi Gaetano (senior back at Crestwood) headline the crop of all-star-caliber players returning to the field this season. Meanwhile, the graduation of 100-goal-scorers Mary Tona of Coughlin and Lydia Lawson of Holy Redeemer opens the door for a new scoring champion. Now with Redeemer being charged to replace Lawson’s 40-goal production, expect midfielder Nicole Cavanaugh — 21 goals, 14 assists in 2015 — to be one of the WVC’s leaders in points. However, she’ll have competition from all over, including Crestwood forward Melissa Herrera, who was the only freshman to make The Citizens’ Voice All-Star team in 2015. Perennial power Dallas is also replacing a strong Class of 2016 that included its leaders in goals and assists. THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM? The Crestwood Comets have taken a back seat the last two years to Coughlin and Dallas, watching their in-conference foes advance further in the District 2 Class 2A playoffs. In 2014, Crestwood was bounced in the quarterfinals by Dallas, which went on to win the championship. Last season, Scranton Prep clinched a state playoff appearance shortly after eliminating Crestwood in the quarterfinals. But reloaded with a talented group and building off a 14-win season — that included a win against Dallas — this could be the year Crestwood breaks through. Many of the schools previously playing in Class 2A, including Crestwood, are now in Class 3A. NEW FACES The league this season will welcome a pair of new head coaches. At Coughlin, Desiree Kriedler has replaced Joe Spagnuolo Jr. Just last season Spagnuolo led the Crusaders to a district title and state playoff appearance. Spagnuolo said he will remain on staff as a volunteer assistant. Meanwhile, Aimee Bono — an assistant the past five years at Crestwood — has taken over at Hanover Area, which was previously coached by Brian Bannon. MATCHES TO WATCH Sept. 7, Coughlin at Crestwood Sept. 14, Nanticoke Area at Holy Redeemer Sept. 15, Dallas at Crestwood Sept. 19, Dallas at Coughlin Oct. 4, Holy Redeemer at Lake-Lehman Oct. 13, Pittston Area at Valley West Oct. 20, Wyoming Area at Holy Redeemer Division 1 Coughlin Coach: Desiree Kriedler Classification: Class 3A 2015 results: 18-2, defeated Scranton Prep for the District 2 Class 2A title; eliminated by Midd-West in the first round of PIAAs. Players to watch: Seniors — Victoria Bilski, mid; Angelina Davis, mid; Paige Davis, GK; Skyler Panattieri, mid; Bryana Pega, mid. Juniors — Mallory Balchun, mid; Kayla Filipowich, mid; Megan Gurnari, mid; Abby Majeski, def.; Kendall Pearage, mid; Kallie O’Donnell, def.; Casey Salinas, def. Sophomores — Le’June Berry, fwd.; Rosie McGrane, mid; Samantha Nordmark, def. Coach’s outlook: “With a great preseason behind us and a strong group of returning and incoming players, we are hoping to grow as the season progresses. As in every year, we hope to compete for league and district titles.” Crestwood Coach: Russ Kile Classification: Class 3A 2015 results: 14-3, lost to Dallas in the District 2 Class 2A quarterfinals. Players to watch: Senior — Lexi Gaetano, def. Juniors — Sam Brumagin, mid; Taylor Tomalinas, mid. Sophomores — Melissa Herrera, fwd.; Bella Termini, mid/fwd.; Nina Atie, mid. Coach’s outlook: “We are looking forward to big accomplishments this season as we’ve been building for the past few. We have a deep bench that includes several gifted incoming freshmen. Mixing together our seasoned veterans with our younger players, we should have a very strong showing this season.” Dallas Coach: Abe Lewis Classification: Class 3A 2015 results: 15-3, defeated by Coughlin in the District 2 Class 2A semifinals. Players to watch: Seniors — Megan Miller, def.; Emma Lehman, def.; Rachel Maniskas, mid. Juniors — Samantha Mazula, mid; Nora Brown, def.; Rachel Nelligan, GK; Hannah Boyd, def.; Hollie Holthaus, fwd.; Olivia Kimmerle, mid. Coach’s outlook: “We have a lot of young, talented players entering the program this year and that will be a nice complement to an already experienced group of returning players. It will take a few games for the team to jell together and form a good understanding on the field. I expect there to be stiff competition for playing time this season as we have some very talented players in our program. Our team goal is to improve each week of the season and get ourselves in a good position to be successful for a run in the district playoffs.” Hazleton Area Coach: Jim Paisley Classification: Class 4A 2015 results: 2-14, lost to Valley West in the District 2 Class 3A quarterfinals. Players to watch: Seniors — Nancy Cruz, def.; Summer Paisley, mid. Junior — Paige Bonin, GK. Sophomores — Kaitlyn Beiler, mid; Josie Middleton, mid/fwd. Coach’s outlook: “We only lost two starters from last year and have a great influx of freshmen knocking on the door to start. A majority of our team is underclassmen, so I anticipate some growing pains early in the season. But by midseason we should hit our stride, making us ready for the playoffs.” Pittston Area Coach: Nicole Tieso Classification: Class 3A 2015 results: 9-7-1, fell to Wallenpaupack in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals. Players to watch: Seniors — Taryn Ashby, GK; Mia Barbieri, mid; Kayla Hogan, mid; Jordan Levandoski, mid. Coach’s outlook: “Our team will depend heavily on our seniors for leadership and guidance through a difficult regular season schedule. We have a younger roster this season, but many of our younger players do have varsity experience from last season. Everyone has been working hard and giving 100 percent each and every day. The girls are focused, determined, and they are showing great teamwork and team unity. We are looking to find the right combination to fill some voids we have from last year’s graduating class. It’s going to be a tough season in 3A, but as long as we continue to work hard and improve, I think we can have a great season.” Tunkhannock Coach: Bill Melan Classification: Class 3A 2015 results: 3-12-1, eliminated by Abington Heights in the District 2 Class 2A quarterfinals. Players to watch: Senior — Lexi Goodwin, def. Junior — Nicole Macko, mid. Sophomore — Jazmine Appel, fwd.; Hailey Farr, GK. Coach’s outlook: “Outlook this year, as always, is optimistic. But we still have a very young team that is heavy with sophomores and freshmen, seven and 12 (of them), respectively.” Wyoming Valley West Coach: Deb Stevens Classification: Class 3A 2015 results: 11-6, eliminated in the District 2 Class 3A semifinals by Williamsport. Players to watch: Lauren Thoryk, Tiffany Michalek, Riley O’Neil. Coach’s outlook: “We have a good mixture of returning players and some talented freshmen. Preseason workouts have been an emphasis on technical skills and fitness. We expect to be competitive.” Division 2 Berwick Coach: Paul DiPippa Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 6-8-2, eliminated by Holy Redeemer in the first round of the District 2 Class 2A playoffs. Players to watch: Juniors — Cassidy Eckert, Lydia Traugh. Sophomore — Amber Koshinski. Coach’s outlook: “With eight out of 11 starters returning we hope to continue to improve and be competitive in the conference and district playoffs.” GAR Coach: Roberto Colin Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 0-16 WVC, lost to Hanover Area in District 2 Class 2A play-in game. Players to watch: Sophomore — Skylar Elmy. Freshman — Katelyn George. Coach’s outlook: “We’re continuing to build our program and look forward to another fun season.” Hanover Area Coach: Aimee Bono Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 4-13, lost to Coughlin in the first round of the District 2 Class 2A playoffs. Players to watch: Seniors — Gillian Barber, mid/fwd.; Shannon Keating, mid/def.; Tiana Davis, def. Junior — Nadia Lamoreux, fwd. Sophomores — Sam Nay, def.; Kyarra McMullen, def.; ; Tanisha Atherton, mid. Coach’s outlook: “I think that we are a group of really hard workers that are going to go out into every game and give it everything we’ve got. After coming off (four) wins last year ... we’re looking to figure some things out and hope for a better record than we had in the past.” Holy Redeemer Coach: Robert Hughes Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 13-4, lost to Abington Heights in the District 2 Class 2A quarterfinals. Players to watch: Seniors — Nicole Cavanaugh, mid; Autumn Kaminski, mid; Julia Adams, def. Coach’s outlook: “We lost a number of starters due to graduation, we believe that between our returning players and new players we will gain the experience and chemistry through the course of the season to prepare us for district play.” Lake-Lehman Coach: Kelly Adamshick Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 12-5, lost to Scranton Prep in the District 2 Class 2A quarterfinals. Players to watch: Seniors — Makalie Blazick, def., Lauren Austin, def. Juniors — Lexi Concklin, def.; Hallie Jenkins, def.; Kait Presmus, def.; Kyra Apaliski, mid; Mackenzie Love, fwd.; Amanda Ayers, fwd. Freshmen — Paige Motovidlak, def.; Lauren Chapple, def.; Chloe Weaver, fwd.; Abby Paczewski, mid; Sarah Salus, mid; Emily Smith, mid. Coach’s outlook: “We have a great group of core players returning along with a solid group of up and coming freshman. We look forward to improving with every game as we gain experience playing together. Looking to continue in the post season with success.” Meyers Coach: Brynn Nargoski Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 5-10, eliminated by Mountain View in the District 2 Class A semifinals. Players to watch: Seniors — Kayley Nilon, fwd.; Devon Keiper, GK; Elise Fellerman, def.; Maria Armbruster, mid. Juniors — Erin Morris, fwd.; Jordan Givens, def., Maria Franckiewicz. Coach’s outlook: “Both coaches and team are looking forward to this year for many reasons. After winning our division last year, it gave our girls the confidence they needed to continue to grow as players and as a program. Our program grew from 13 girls last year to 23 this year. The girls are working hard day in and day out at practice to make this season the best one yet. I could not ask for a better group of girls who are so willing to listen and learn the game. The outlook we have about this season is definitely positive and we can’t wait for it to start.” Nanticoke Area Coach: Rich Compton Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 8-8, fell to North Pocono in the District 2 Class 2A first round. Players to watch: Seniors — Kayla Aufiero, fwd.; Liz Mulhern, mid. Juniors — Taylor Zabrenski, def.; Maddy Grilz, def.; Katie Butczynski, mid. Sophomore — Amiah Lukowski, fwd. Coach’s outlook: “Working hard and feeling good. We do not have a big squad but they are doing what it will take.” Wyoming Area Coach: Nikki Sitkowski Classification: Class 2A 2015 results: 5-9-2, eliminated in the first round of the District 2 Class 2A playoffs by Dallas. Players to watch: Seniors — Caitlin Butchko, GK; Kara Dooner, def.; Leah Moore, fwd.; Eden Stella, def.; Ariana Pamias, def.; Lauren Shission, fwd. Juniors — Erica Gallagher, mid; Casey McNew, def. Sophomores — Aleah Kranson, mid; Sydney Johnson, def. Freshmen — Tierney Porfirio, Abby Yatsko, Sarah McCormick, Amanda McCormick, Caitlin McDonough, Sydney Maguire. Coach’s outlook: “This season we will look to work in some talented young players into the varsity roster. Combined with some solid veteran players and solid goalkeeping, I feel we will be competitive within the new conference lineup. Solid leadership on and off the field will be key.” Wyoming Seminary Coach: Erin Griffin Classification: Class A 2015 results: 4-11, lost to Lakeland in the District 2 Class A quarterfinals. Players to watch: Senior — Alyssa Kristeller, fwd. Junior — Julia Gabriel, def. Sophomore — Annemaaike Reitsma, mid. Freshman — Katarina Banks, mid. Coach’s outlook: “We had a great preseason — the girls worked hard and we’ll carry their can-do attitude into the regular season. We have quite a young team, with nine sophomores and seven freshmen, which is great for the future of our team, and we also have some key upperclassmen returning. We are excited to see how things go with the new schedule in place.” mbufano@citizensvoice.com 570-821-2060, @CVBufano