A successful sports program relies on talent, teamwork and a will to win. As evident in their five straight league titles, the Pennsbury girls’ soccer team certainly ranks as a successful team. This year’s version of Falcon soccer dominance is no different. They are a skilled and determined group of athletes.
Last year the Falcons won their fifth straight Suburban One League National Division title by posting a 17-5-1. They then went on to make their third appearance in the PIAA state tournament in five years. Such credentials definitely speak of their soccer prowess.
This year the team lost several key players to graduation including high scorer Christina Cataldo-Smith. Yet in typical Pennsbury fashion the girls found the way to win. They now sit atop the National League with a perfect 10-0 record.
Gabby Zalot, senior captain and standout midfielder, described both the dilemma facing the Falcons and their solution. “Going int the season we really didn’t know what to expect because we lost some important seniors last year. We’ve had a lot of underclassmen step up which really helped us. We’re a really close team and that helps a lot. Our identity soccerwise has grown a lot.”
Part of the unity came via the trial and error method. “During preseason we were moving a lot of parts around and during practices we were scrimmaging and trying to figure out who played best together. We finally found our lineup and even if it’s not our starting eleven, other people come in who impact the game in a positive way. Everybody is ready and we all bought in to the team mentality that we’re going to do it for each other.”
One of the people the coaches knew they could count on was Gabby. She, along with the other captains Rosie Bostian, Ashley Conlow and Bella Arcuri, provided the necessary leadership to help mold the younger talent. Gabby defines her role as captain, saying, “I don’t see myself as more of a vocal leader. I just try to lead by example and try to do the right thing so my teammates will follow. The captains don’t have to be on people’s backs because we all want the same thing and we work together.”
Gabby epitomizes such a selfless, team-oriented attitude by her very role on the field. “For high school I play more of an attack center mid. My main responsibility is to get the ball and distribute to the outside mids and forwards. My aim is not scoring as much as assisting and trying to get my teammates in on goal.”
She is a master at her craft. Many times Gabby will control the ball, reverse field, do a spin move, and free one of her teammates. She loves this challenge. “I’m more of a technical player. I’m not big or fast. I like having the ball on my feet. When I get the ball, I’m technical enough to keep it. I like to possess the ball and make passes I know are going to help my teammates get in the best possible chance to score.”
Gabby’s efforts have certainly helped the Falcons as they strive to reach their team goals. “We want to win our sixth straight league title. Also, we want to make it farther in states than any of us have ever been.”
Earlier this season, in a game against Council Rock South, the Falcons learned a lessen that should help them reach their goals. “A key game was the first time we beat South. It was a crazy game. We were down 3-1 in the last five minutes of the game. We came back and scored three times to win 4-3. It proved to us that we always find a way to get it done and that is what good teams do. Even if you’re facing adversity, you’ll find a way to get over it and that is a big part of our team. We always believe we can still win.”
In their second meeting with Council Rock South the Falcons were determined not to rely on last minute heroics. “We were the only team in the league that beat CR South the first time, so we wanted to do it again. We knew how much was on the line. If we won this game we almost have the league title locked in and that was one of our big goals, We were really pumped for this game.”
To stop the Golden Hawks Pennsbury knew they had to corral the Golden Hawks high scoring Sammy Jones. “We wanted to make sure we were aware of number six, Sammy Jones, because she scored all their goals in our last meeting. We didn’t man mark her but we wanted to make sure she was never left in space.”
The strategy worked as the Falcons defeated their closest rival 1-0 on a forty-yard kick by Rosie Bostian. “Our defense was key. Obviously, we got a great shot from Rosie but once that happened we just had to lock them in. Our defense played really organized ball and we found a way. Everyone worked together. There was always a cover. If one of our players got beat the next one would step up.”
Once again, the Falcons have shown they know what counts if you are to be successful. They possess the essential talent, teamwork and desire.