The lovely ladies of Northeast Philadelphia have once again stormed the soccer field, and it looks like any one of the four local squads could be solid contenders for the championship this season.
St. Hubert is stacked with experience, and although Archbishop Ryan and Little Flower have some youth in the net, they have plenty of talent throughout the pitch.
Nazareth Academy has its core lineup back from last season, but after the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies’ decision to eliminate the postseason and determine the champion by league play, the Pandas will have to make some alterations to their overall strategy.
So what can you expect from Northeast Philadelphia’s four neighborhood teams? Here’s a look at the Ragdolls, Sentinels, Bambies and Pandas.
Philadelphia Catholic League
The Archbishop Ryan girls soccer squad is back and ready to make a dash for a Catholic League crown.
“We can definitely compete in the league and compete for a Catholic League championship,” said Ragdolls head coach Ryan Haney. “We’re looking good.”
Senior midfielders Emily Vizza and Cailin Blaney and sweeper Scarlet Walsh are the team captains this season.
Juniors Gina Luciano and Brittany Robinson and sophomore Briana Egenlauf will work as forwards, with senior Kerri Retter and junior Megan Manion contributing in the midfield.
Lindsey Rodgers, Taylor Adair and Kaitlyn McFadden will guide the Ragdolls’ defense this season, with freshman goaltender Jasmine Gonzalez in the net.
The Little Flower High School soccer squad is stacked with talent this season, but they’re missing one vital position — a goaltender.
“We lost our goalie to graduation,” said Sentinel boss Markos Pittaoulis, referring to last year’s All-Catholic goalie Erin Gallagher. “Right now, the main thing is finding her replacement.”
Returning starters Courtney Weidner, Ursula Coyle and Taylor Cobb will resume as midfielders this season, with some additional help from Kerri Petroski.
Defenders include Ashley Quenzer, Jenna Device and Aileen Bradley. Striker Brie Colomy will round out the Sentinels’ core lineup.
“So far we’re looking good,” said Pittaoulis. “We should do well.”
The St. Hubert Bambies are plentiful this season, and ready to claim their spot atop the Philadelphia Catholic League.
Senior goaltenders Krista Patterson and Grace Lloyd will share time in the net. They’ll be supported by senior defensemen Eireann Anastasi and Sam Stermel and juniors Jacqui DeRocini and Alyssa Bollard.
Midfielders include senior Amanda Linder, juniors Desirae Holmes and Claire Alminde, and sophomore Elise Smith.
Also contributing this season is senior forward and midfielder Erin Mock. Senior Gina Sgrillo, who is recovering from a knee injury, will resume her duties in the front field once she is healthy. Fellow forwards include Elizabeth Jones and Cassidy Rajkowski.
Also working the midfield when needed are Casey Matthews, Victoria Formica, Jill Osborne, Emily Klenk and Jess Conway. Defenders Jess Bruening and Jess Guyan will complete the Bambies’ roster.
“We’re still trying to put together the right combination of starters,” explained Bambies boss Mickey McGroarty. “As the season progresses, we want to get better with each game. I’m looking forward to a solid season.”
Philadelphia Catholic Academies League
No playoffs. No championship.
That’s how the Philadelphia Catholic Academies League is shaping up this season, due to the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies’ decision to eliminate the postseason.
The reorganization of the league is designed to address the abundance of cancellations because of inclement weather. Because the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has time limitations for each season, teams were attempting to cram all postponed games and playoff games within the last few weeks of the season.
“The teams were playing four games in seven days, and in soccer that is just not healthy. Injuries were going up,” explained Nazareth Academy High School soccer coach and athletic director Danielle Wilson. “Now, the champion will be determined by the regular season’s outcome.”
The new organization of the Catholic Academies League will affect the outdoor sports offered by Nazareth Academy, including soccer, field hockey, tennis, lacrosse and softball. All indoor sports will resume business as usual.
Although there is no postseason to contend for, the Nazareth Academy soccer squad is still hungry for a championship.
Midfielder Shannon Hirl and goalie Liz McBride — both seniors — will be co-captains for the Pandas this year.
Senior Marie Bisirri and junior Gabby Balara will handle midfield responsibilities, with sophomores Taylor Capecci and Alyssa Holacik-Perez in the front. Senior Nicole Pyle will work as a forward and midfielder. Junior sweeper Roe Capuano rounds out the Pandas’ core of returning players this season.
Also contributing on the pitch are freshmen Lexi McCarthy-Prett, Kayla McNamee and Alex Esposito.
“We have a lot of talented freshmen, which is exciting,” said Wilson. “Our senior class is small, but very strong. The team is looking great. We’re looking to make a big impact this year.” ••