New coach, same dreams for Pennridge
Since 1990 when the Pennridge girls’ soccer program was established Audrey Anderson has wanted to see it excel. Anderson was on the inaugural team as a freshman and after graduation in 1993 always kept an eye on her alma mater. After spending the last seven seasons an assistant coach with the Rams, helping turn it into a perennial state title contender, Anderson is now the head coach of last year’s state runner-ups.
“This is so personal to me,” Anderson said. “I was a ninth grader on the WHDP Ln WKH fiUVW yHDU RI WKH SURJUDP. SHHLnJ KRw GLIfiFuOW LW wDV DnG VHHLnJ where the program is, it does not get any better than that.”
Jorge Rodriguez stepped down from the position after winning two District 2nH FKDPSLRnVKLSV Ln fiYH yHDUV. Anderson and Rodriguez worked well together, and while there are some nHUYHV IRU WKH fiUVW-yHDU KHDG FRDFK, having near 20 returning varsity players from last year’s 23-2 season helps ease some trepidation.
“We have a lot of key girls returning and it exciting for me as a coach,” Anderson said. “Jorge is a different style coach than I am, although I have learned so much from him. He has gone back to VFKRRO WR JHW KLV WHDFKLnJ FHUWLfiFDWH DnG he’s not completely out of the picture. He has already come back and done a training session with the girls.”
AnGHUVRn JRW KHU fiUVW WDVWH RI KHDG coaching in Hersheypark Stadium for the state championship. Rodriguez PLVVHG WKH finDO JDPH RI WKH VHDVRn as at the time of kickoff was when he was on plane for his honeymoon. The 1-0 loss to Peters Township turns out to be excellent experience for Anderson as she enters the 2012 looking to lead her team back to Hershey.
“Jorge gave me a heads up and I knew beforehand that this was a possibility,” Anderson said. “I never felt more alone at that game with all of those people there, but it is an experience that I have, that a lot of coaches do not. Whether it is because Jorge got married or whatever the case, I still have that experience.”
The Rams not only return experience, but leadership from girls such as four-year starter Natalia Pinkney. Every year talented seniors have graduated and new players have had to step up. This year the Rams lose players such as Stevi Parker, who is playing at South Carolina, and Pinkney under-
stands her leadership has to expand.
“It is upsetting to lose people, but that is how it is,” Pinkney said. “We know who we have and there is no point to count ourselves out. Stevi was a big voice in WKH FHnWHU RI WKH fiHlG, sR wH will need to work on communication and make sure this team stays together.”
It was a slight shock to the Rams to see Rodriguez part ways and the girls knew they were losing a great coach. But if anyone was going to take over, they are happy it is Anderson, whom they have established a good relationship with. There a few differences in coaching styles, but the Rams are ready to start the Anderson era on the right foot.
“,W Ls GHfinLWHly GLIIHUHnW between Aud and Jorge,” Pinkney said. “Aud, since she has played here, she has so much pride in this team and we have decided this is our year to go back DnG JHW fiUsW SlDFH. ($nGHUsRn) Ls PRUH Rn WKH fiWnHss side and technical work. We are picking up where we left off, just with a little change.”
While a pre-existing relationship between Anderson and the Rams helps, the communication between the new head coach and the girls is the still the main focus as they head into the season. Anderson, who has her soccer jersey retired at California University of Pennsylvania, wants to make sure her team understands her expectations. And expectations are to win.
“Jorge had a relationship with the girls that I did not and now it’s my turn,” Anderson said. “Getting them to feel comfortable with my coaching style and how far I can push these girls. We have a lot of leadership and everyone’s goal is still the same. So let’s see if we can get back there.”