Talent pool propels Lady Eagles to title game
It was building to a year like this, one which almost didn’t even happen.
Conwell-Egan Catholic (CEC) has been improving since this year’s group of eight seniors arrived at the school four years ago. Yet, the Lady Eagles’ record may not have shown it during this campaign, when for the fourth time in their careers, the seniors fell in the Philadelphia Catholic LHDguH (3CL) quDUWHUfinDO round, winding up with just a 7-6-1 record to that point.
What followed, though, was the culmination of all the efforts of improving in practices and making it shRw Rn WhH fiHOG. 7hDW quDOity is something senior and team co-captain Summer 7DyORU DGPLUHs PRsW DERuW coach Andy Adamiec’s style, and it proved to work to fruition this month.
Behind solid defense, goaltending and its own resiliency, the Lady Eagles FDughW fiUH DW WhH ULghW WLPH. 7hH UHsuOW wDs D UDOOy WR earn a District 12 Class A championship and state playoff berth, which Egan took advantage of by winning three straight contests WR EHFRPH WhH fiUsW WHDP Ln school history, in any sport, to reach a state championship game.
“We enjoyed being there, and as we kept winning, we didn’t want to stop,” said 7DyORU, whR sDLG WhLs yHDU’s seniors also tried to have a more laid-back mentality as team leaders than in season’s past.
“Since I started there, I think people underestimated us,” she continued. “I think people don’t see us as a threat, but we really proved ourselves this year.”
7hH (DgOHs GLG sR wLWh D balanced group of players, of which 11 scored at least one goal on the season and 13 registered a point. Of WhH sHnLRUs, 7DyORU wDs WhH leading points-earner, as her six goals and 11 assists gave her a team-high 17 points. One of her goals wound up being the game winner in CEC’s 2-1 triumph over Christopher Dock in the sWDWH sHPLfinDOs 1RY. 13, sHW up by striker Maddy Michaels.
7hH FORsHsW DnyRnH FDPH to her assist total was midfiHOGHU/sWULkHU 0LFhHOOH LDtronica, who had six assists to go with eight goals, the latter of which tied her with 7DyORU’s sLsWHU, 2OLYLD, IRU the team lead.
As Latronica and Olivia helped prove, the talent pool went far beyond the seniors. Underclassmen played a huge role in the (DgOHs’ Uun WR WhH finDOs, Ds Latronica, a junior, scored three of CEC’s eight state playoff goals. Included in that achievement was the game-winner in a 2-1 upsHW RI 7uOSHhRFkHn Ln WhH quDUWHUfinDOs, whLFh wDs sHW uS Ey sHnLRU PLGfiHOGHU/GHfender Alyssa Eltz (3 goals and 2 assists in 2012) to break a 1-1 tie with under 15 minutes to go. Latronica also netted in a pair in C(C’s fiUsW-URunG wLn RYHU Minersville.
Other contributors included juniors Grace Macnamara (3 goals, 1 assist), Erica Forktus (1 goal, 4 assists) and sophomore Maddy Michaels (4 goals, 3 assists).
“To get them to believe they could win these games and believe, that was the challenge for me,” said Adamiec, who has been this group’s coach all four seasons and with the school’s programs since 2000. The EDJOes fiQisheG 11-7-1 oQ the year. “After four years, I knew we had talent.”
“I knew I had a good team. I just needed them to play a little better,” he continued. “With our record being 8-6 going into states, I think some of the teams took us lightly.”
If others squads did, they paid dearly for it. Tulpehocken, for instance, was the District 3 champion and 22-1-1 JoiQJ iQWo iWs coQWesW with Egan. Yet, after CEC had beaten Minersville four days earlier, Adamiec noticed a different attitude with his team. The result was a group determined to push forward, which it kept doing by knocking off three district champions along the way.
“I think it was fun becDuse iW wDs Py fiUsW yeDU, and we got to go this far,” said Olivia Taylor, a freshman striker. “All the seniors helped us.”
“I looked up to them and I wanted to start playing like them,” she added.
Olivia was one of four freshmen regulars and seven overall on the varsity roster. They included BaiOey BUowQ (1 DssisW), EPPi EOWz (1 JoDO) DQG 0DJJie Irvin, a goalie who had a shuWouW wiQ whiOe fiOOiQJ in for normal starter Becky McAllister. A senior, McAllister played part of the year WhUouJh D EUokeQ iQGex fiQger she suffered during a practice, and wound up with a solid season that included eiJhW sDYes iQ Whe sWDWe fiQDO loss to Greensburg Central Catholic.
“You can’t play soccer without goalkeeper. Basically if it wasn’t for her doing what she did and being uQseOfish DQG JoiQJ iQ JoDO, I don’t think we would have made it out of district,” said Adamiec of McAllister, a coQYeUWeG PiGfieOGeU IUoP 2011, who hDG 4 shuWouWs to go with 3 goals and two assists.
,UYiQ fiJuUes Wo keeS the keeping strong as a sophomore, but there will Ee YoiGs Wo fiOO wiWhouW Summer Taylor, who has committed to play at East Stroudsburg University, and co-cDSWDiQs -DQeW 3eWUiQo (4 JoDOs), LiQGsDy BUiJJs (2 JoDOs) DQG .eOOi 3ieOO. YeW, several junior varsity players should be able to move up and help keep the momentum going.
“I think we’re leaving behind a good legacy,” said Summer. “This is our last year; we made a statement.”
It couldn’t have come at a better time, either. The talk last year at season’s end was WhDW Whe EDJOes’ TuDUWeUfiQDO setback could have been the last game in school history, which could have led to several potential incoming players choosing another school.
“When Egan said it was going to close, I was thinking, ‘I’m going to (AUchEishoS) 5yDQ HiJh School,’” recalled Olivia.
As it turned out, though, CEC won an appeal and remained open, and a strong incoming class made its mark.
“I like the school that I’m at and I like the team. I’m happy that I went to Egan,” Olivia continued.
“When we heard our school was closing, it was SUoEDEOy Whe woUsW GDy (DW) Conwell-Egan,” Summer also said. “We wanted people to know not to close us.”
“We might be little, but we still have heart,” she added. “I think that since we made it this far, more people are going to come to our school and keep it open.”
That has proven to be true at least for the soccer program, which had a contingency of fans at Council 5ock NoUWh HiJh 6chooO for the Christopher Dock sePifiQDO. FuUWheU, GuUiQJ D recent open house for potential incoming freshmen, Summer said about 50 girls signed a list expressing interest in playing for the Eagles.
Conwell-Egan senior Kelly goes for a 50-50 ball.