Tuesday, September 19, 2023 | 9:11 pm
The Springdale girls soccer team is a team that has been on the hunt this season after what it did last year when it reached the WPIAL Class A finals and the PIAA quarterfinals.
The Dynamos, this week’s No. 1 team in the TribLive HSSN Class A rankings, are also a team that has a target on its back regarding how it will progress through the first part of its season. They have outscored opponents 45-4 over six games en route to a 6-0 overall record (5-0 in Division 1).
“(The rankings) are definitely cool, but we know we can’t get cocky or overly confident about it,” said junior Molly Hurley, a team captain this year with senior Ashley Ross and junior Brooke Taliani. “We can’t let this affect us in any bad way. We can’t get complacent. We have to keep working hard and know that teams will come to us and knock us down.”
Springdale lost 10 top talents all over the field from last year’s team, which battled Freedom in the WPIAL title game before losing 3-0. Among those losses was All-WPIAL forward Grace Gent, a freshman on the women’s team at Chatham.
The Dynamos took down District 10 champion Mercyhurst Prep 2-0 in the first round of states. Their run was ended in the next round by rival Greensburg Central Catholic.
“There was a lot of expectation coming into this year because of what we can all do,” said Hurley, who scored six goals and had five assists. “We knew we had a few freshmen, and there were younger girls ready to step up and fill the gaps left by those who graduated.
“We knew we were going to have to work hard over the offseason to put all the pieces together, and we did that because we didn’t want this series to end.”
Springdale is fully aware of the big test Thursday in what is expected to be a festive atmosphere at Riverside Park in Oakmont.
It is the first meeting between Dynamos and Riverview (6-1, 4-1), led by the great scoring machine Lola Abraham. The game is set for 6 p.m. and is part of Riverview’s Homecoming Games Under the Lights series. Riverview and Springdale play at 8 p.m., and the Riverview soccer team hosts Frazier on Friday night.
The Riverview girls’ only loss is a 4-3 setback to Greensburg Central Catholic in their sectional opener on Aug. 28.
“I think everyone will come out and really support both teams,” Hurley said. “It will be a lot of fun. We have to be at our best because Riverview is playing very well. We know that the match will not be easy, and we have to be focused and prepared. We know that they have talent everywhere. This increases our determination and motivation.”
The Dynamos made the WPIAL stand up and take notice by scoring seven goals in a 7-2 win over Class 2A Deer Lakes in their opener on Aug. 26.
Junior Brianna Ross picked up right where she left off last year when she scored 19 goals and added 17 assists.
Ross had five goals and an assist to lead Springdale against the Lancers. Ashley Ross and sophomore Hailey Marchlewski added goals, and Taliani and sophomore Arianna Caltagaroone provided assists.
“That really gave us a lot of confidence going into the next few games as we started the sectional games,” Springdale coach Mark Bentley said.
“It was important to see how we would come out because we have new players in the lineup and other girls playing in new positions. That game really helped us figure things out and settle in.”
Springdale built on the win over Deer Lakes with a 3-0 win over rival Greensburg Central Catholic four days later.
Brianna Ross, the team leader in goals (17) and assists (10), scored two goals and assisted on another against the Centurions, and junior goalie Billy Haas produced a clean sheet.
It’s one of three shutouts for Springdale’s defense this season.
“Billy made a great save to keep the score at 0-0 in the first half,” Bentley said. “We had Brooke Taliani and (sophomore) Lacey Schundek move to center back. We lost one of our center backs from last year to graduation, and the other one decided not to come back this year. They started out in an unfamiliar position, but they were great.”
“They’re the cornerstone of the defense. Having Hayley Marchlewski playing against them was solid. To shut out a team like GCC is really impressive.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael via email at email@example.com or via Twitter .