PSU-Abington bountiful in local women’s soccer players

Fresh­man Ash­ley Quen­zer (right, Little Flower) is one of five former Phil­adelphia Cath­ol­ic and Pub­lic League soc­cer play­ers that make up the Penn State-Abing­ton wo­men’s soc­cer team. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS


Last Wed­nes­day’s con­test between Penn State-Abing­ton and Gal­laudet Uni­versity at Fath­er Judge’s pristine new sports com­plex was a col­lege wo­men’s soc­cer match-up, but it al­most could have been mis­taken for a Phil­adelphia high school All-Star Game.

There were Abing­ton seni­ors Brit­tany Palmer and Kaitlin Ko­zole, who have been team­mates after be­ing soc­cer ad­versar­ies dur­ing their time at Arch­bish­op Ry­an and St. Hubert. Then there were the young­sters who Palmer and Ko­zole have groomed to help take the reins of the Abing­ton pro­gram: Ash­ley Quen­zer, of Little Flower; De­sirae Holmes, of St. Hubert; and the in­jured Shan­non Brady, of Frank­lin Towne Charter. All three are fresh­men, and all three have played a sig­ni­fic­ant role on an Abing­ton team that cur­rently boasts an 11-6-1 re­cord, with eight of those wins com­ing with­in the North East­ern Ath­let­ic Con­fer­ence (NEAC).

And after a 6-1 thrash­ing of Gal­laudet on Wed­nes­day night that fea­tured two goals from Holmes and one each from Ko­zole and Palmer on their Seni­or Night, all of the afore­men­tioned team­mates briefly shif­ted in­to rivalry mode. That’s be­cause a St. Hubert-Arch­bish­op Ry­an girls’ play­off game was get­ting ready to kick off a few minutes away over on Ry­an’s cam­pus.

“Ry­an … al­ways Ry­an,” Palmer joked while stand­ing next to Ko­zole when asked for her pre­dic­tion on the Bam­bies-Rag­dolls match-up. “If the Bam­bies win, that’s em­bar­rass­ing.”

And though Ry­an did ul­ti­mately pre­vail, 4-1, there was no love lost for these sets of rivals now turned team­mates.

Quen­zer and Holmes, once in the throes of the an­cient Little Flower-St. Hubert rivalry, now em­brace the fact that they play for the same team.

“It was sort of an, ‘Oh my God, she’s on my team now!’ scen­ario,” said Quen­zer, who has known Holmes for six years. “We were both really ex­cited.”

“It’s very help­ful to have each oth­er, no doubt,” ad­ded Holmes. “We were put in a tough po­s­i­tion to step in right away as fresh­men, and that’s giv­en us ex­per­i­ence that we can only use to our ad­vant­age go­ing for­ward.”

With Palmer and Ko­zole lead­ing the way, Abing­ton won its first NEAC title a year ago. With hopes of re­peat­ing still on their minds, the soon-to-be de­part­ing seni­ors have en­joyed their roles as ment­ors.

“All three of them have brought a lot to the table, and we’re very proud of them,” Ko­zole said. “They’ve helped our team a lot, and it’s not easy to come in as fresh­men and con­trib­ute right away. They’ve held their own.”

Holmes leads the team with eight goals, five as­sists and 21 points; Quen­zer, a hard-nosed de­fend­er, has a goal and an as­sist of her own. Brady has star­ted 12 games her­self, while Palmer and Ko­zole have com­piled sev­en and four goals, re­spect­ively. The team has a sol­id mix­ture of vet­er­ans and un­der­class­men, many of who have been thrown im­me­di­ately in­to the fire.

“Those seni­ors have helped us so much,” Holmes said. “As soon as I got here, Kaitlin took me un­der her wing and called me her Bam­bie.”

“I love Palmer,” Quen­zer ad­ded. “We’re nat­ur­al Ry­an-Little Flower rivals, but we have this great bond. We talk about our high school days, and now here we are as team­mates. We’re al­ways to­geth­er.”

And with Palmer and Ko­zole set to pass the bat­on to the fresh­men, they couldn’t be prouder of their young­er team­mates.

“It has giv­en us a little piece of the Cath­ol­ic League to take with us, and it’s pretty great to see how it’s all come to­geth­er as one,” Palmer said.

If any­thing, it al­lowed them to hold onto their roots for a few more sea­sons.

“The Cath­ol­ic schools pre­pare you to ac­cept oth­ers, which is why it was so easy for us to bond as one,” Ko­zole said. “I’d just tell them all to cher­ish it, be­cause it goes by so quickly. I hope they get as much out of it as I did in my time here.” ••

Sports ed­it­or Ed Mor­rone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or em­or­

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