Losing graduating seniors can hurt any team. The key is how well they adapt to the new emerging talent. While needing time to solidify, the Council Rock North girls soccer team appears to be adjusting quite well.
Last year the Indians logged a respectable 9-7-2 record. They were led by such talented seniors as Becca Margolis, Mia Scalamandre, and Meredith Hill, all of whom earned all-SOL team honors.
Though feeling the loss, today’s Indians look primed to build toward another successful year. Sarah Khantzian, starting goalie for the 2018 squad, summed up the challenge, “We lost a lot of seniors but I think we’re building on it. I think we’re looking pretty good for the seasons.”
One reason for Sarah’s optimism is the abundance of young talent featured on the Indian’s roster. “We have a deep bench. We don’t have players who just sit on the bench. Most of the players play and they’re very good.”
Of course, the deep squad will have to learn to find their own strengths and weaknesses. Sarah recognizes that, “We’re trying to work more on our formations because we changed it up a little bit this season. We’ve been working on that in practice. Last year we had stronger players in different areas and this year we have to switch off to where our strong areas are.”
Taking on a talented Villa Jo Marie squad in their final preseason scrimmage helped in the confidence building department. Sarah knew that a squad that boasts ten PIAA state title to their credit is a creditable foe. “Since their such a strong team they are good competition before our actual season starts.”
Villa did not fail to impress as they spent most of the first half deep in the Indian’s territory. Sarah proved equal to the task rejecting shot after Villa Jo shot. Her performance almost belies her humble explanation for why she landed in the goalie position. “I use to play right back when I was little. One indoor game in the sixth grade the other goalie got hurt. I guess I was the last option so they put me in and I stuck with it.”
Sarah came to love her new position. “I like the fact that I’m kind of the leader. Being in the back I get to see the whole game. I direct the defense as to what to do and to drop back if I need them. You need to be very vocal and you need to know when to tell the defense when to drop back.”
Blessed with quick reflexes and excellent hand-eye co-ordination, Sarah soon learned the requisite skills of being a goalie, one of which entails timing your own moves. “Usually on a fast break you try to wait until the player coming at you makes a bad touch. If not, you just have to time it to see if you have time to react. You have to figure out how to cut off the angle. If you come out too far they can just kick it over your head.”
Sarah’s staunch effort against Villa Jo helped her teammates gain their own composure. “We started slow because we weren’t working together. As the game went on we got stronger and started doing what we needed to do. We needed to be more vocal about passing and telling our teammates where to drop and guard other people. We need to work on passing more.”
The Indians opened their regular season against Abington two days after the Villa scrimmage. Sarah knew they were taking on a formidable opponent. “I remember from last year that they are a good team. If we take what we’ve been doing in practice it should be a good game.”
Sarah’s prognostication certainly came to fruition. The two SOL rivals battled through double overtime before the Ghosts emerged as a 3-2 winner. Kaleigh O’Donnell gave the Indians an early 1-0 lead. Abington’s Kaeleigh Scrianni then knotted the score late in the half. North answered almost immediately when Brooke Fisher found the back of the Ghost’s net. Abington would go on to tie the game late in the second half and then win it in double overtime on Elizabeth Tracey’s big boot off. As for Sarah, she played an outstanding game in goal rejecting 9 enemy missiles.
Though falling on the downside of a 3-2 classic opener the Indians showed they have certainly adjusted quite well to their new look!