McKeesport, Pa. - Under third-year head coach Amanda Voelker, the Penn State Greater Allegheny women's soccer team brings a boat load of fresh faces with a handful of veterans to contend in the Penn State University Athletic Conference through the 2016 season.
"The team is blessed to have a strong core of returning student-athletes that have made the transition for the younger athletes much more at ease," said Voelker. "The veterans are welcoming the newer girls and instructing as the time goes. It's really a good environment to be in at practice as the girls get together to better prepare for the games ahead."
Greater Allegheny comes off a 2015 season, which ended in a 5-5-1, 3-4-1 PSUAC overall tally.
"The team went through a growing period from last season to this season. We lost key players to University Park but the team looks forward to welcoming the incoming girls to the way we play together. With the PSUAC widening the playoff bracket from jut the top two teams to now the top four, we are working hard to get to the final showcase. The girls worked so hard last season but time just was not on our side, as games were over before we knew it."
GA returns four-year members in senior midfielder Melissa Loftus (Oxford, Pa./Oxford) and senior forward Kristina Dague (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills). Other veteran Lions include senior defender Jess Manfredi (Pittsburgh, Pa./Serra Catholic), senior midfielder Lauren Antosik (McKeesport, Pa./Oakland Catholic) and sophomore forward Gaby Selmi (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Owen-Withee).
"Without an assistant this year due to work conflict, I am really looking to the veteran players to assist me with this season. I appreciate their support and effort already through this season and we are just about to begin our competitive stretch," continued Voelker.
The team welcomes quite a few players that are eager to get their time in on the field. In the midfield and forward positions, freshman Megan Dague (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills), sophomore Mikayla Diak (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin), freshman Erin Findlay (Greensburg, Pa./Central Catholic), freshman Pawpar Heat (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) and freshman Shalonda Eley (Texas) are looking to get their work on the ball.
Defense welcomes freshman Krystal Cella (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport), freshman Kyliegh Staudt (Schnecksville, Pa./Parkland), freshman Syd Fritchman (Carnegie, Pa./Carlynton) and freshman Hannah Rauenzahn (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills).
In net, freshman Alexa Byers (Spring Creek, Pa./Corry Area) is looking to make her collegiate debut with the Greater Allegheny Lions.
"It is an enjoyable mesh at practice, with laughs and learning from all of the girls. As a group, our team makes strides day in and day out in becoming a more technically sound team. The girls are having a good time, win or lose, but don't get it wrong.- we are looking to make a serious run for the PSUAC title this season," concluded Voelker.
The Greater Allegheny women's soccer team looks to open up their 2016-17 regular season against Westmoreland College, Thursday afternoon, at Francis McClure Intermediate School. Kick-off is set for 3 p.m.