Fu­eled by play­off win, Pan­thers aim­ing for more suc­cess in 2016

Cecil Whig - - & - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

A dif­fi­cult cam­paign ended on a high note for the Per­ryville girls’ soc­cer team last fall af­ter it fol­lowed a three-win reg­u­lar sea­son with a vic­tory over ri­val Havre de Grace in the sec­ond round of the 1A East Re­gion Sec­tion I play­offs.

With a new coach on the side­line and the re­turn of sev­eral key con­trib­u­tors from last year’s team, the Pan­thers (4-9 over­all, 2-4 Susque­hanna) en­ter the 2016 sea­son hop­ing to main­tain the mo­men­tum gar­nered from their post­sea­son tri­umph.

“Last year was def­i­nitely a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for the girls. Win­ning the opener in the play­offs, es­pe­cially against Havre de Grace, showed them the im­por­tance of per­se­ver­ance,” said first-year coach Cayla Weller, who takes over on the side­line af­ter one sea­son as the team’s as­sis­tant coach. “I am hop­ing that they use the feel­ing they had dur­ing and af­ter that game to en­er­gize for this year and to help see past any ob­sta­cles this sea­son.”

Sopho­more for­ward Madi­son Carr is back af­ter lead­ing the team in scor­ing last sea­son. The team will also be aided by the re­turn of se­nior de­fense­men Sam Koons and Tay­lor DiP­i­etro.

Both Carr and DiP­i­etro re­ceived All-County honor­able men­tion ac­co­lades in 2015.

“Madi­son is def­i­nitely go­ing to be a force to be reck­oned with again this sea­son. Not only does she have more sup­port up top this sea­son, but she has grown in skill and char­ac­ter since last sea­son. I think that she will be [near] the top with goals and as­sists,” Weller said.

The first-year coach pointed to a trio of sopho­mores whose ad­di­tions should help Per­ryville this sea­son. Weller high­lighted in­com­ing midfielders Alex Koons and Chloe Ports and goalie Shan­non Poole.

“Shan­non has looked strong and ag­gres­sive in net this pre­sea­son,” Weller said. “She is the back­bone to a strong de­fense.”

The Pan­thers will open the sea­son late next week when they visit Bo­hemia Manor in a non-di­vi­sional con­test—the first of two games against their in­county ri­vals.

“I feel the unity that ex­ists be­tween the re­turn­ing play­ers and last year’s fresh­men that moved to var­sity will help the team achieve more. The team looks strong and has dis­played in­creased skill, team work and love for the game dur­ing the two play days we had,” Weller said. “The team and coach­ing staff are work­ing to­gether to use last sea­son’s suc­cesses as a spring board to achieve even more this sea­son.

“It’s hard to pin­point the big­gest strength of the team. If I had to try, I would say the bond the team al­ready has this early in the sea­son,” she added. “If they can con­tinue to grow as a team, I truly feel that they will go fur­ther than they have in the past.”

Fol­low Jor­dan Schatz on Twit­ter: @Jor­dan_Whig

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Se­nior de­fender Sa­man­tha Koons re­turns for a Per­ryville girls’ soc­cer team hop­ing to re­bound from a four-win sea­son.

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