Mars’ Jaden Zimmer (14) and Abby Matusik (2) are two of the Planets’ returning girls volleyball players hoping to make the 2012 season one to remember.
CRANBERRY EAGLE FILE PHOTO
This week marks the first full slate of competition for high school soccer, cross-country and girls volleyball. Following are information capsules detailing the outlook for those sports at Seneca Valley and Mars. Cross-Country Boys Seneca Valley Coach: Jim Nagle, eighth year 2011 record: N/A, sixth at WPIAL Class AAA championship Returning letterwinners: Seniors Ben Nickel and Eli Brinker (in 2010); juniors Alex Taylor and Todd Kowalski Coach’s comment: “Last year, the young kids stepped up and improved from 10th place to sixth (in the WPIAL). We lost a lot from that 10th-place team two years ago and lost a lot from the sixth-place team. These guys feel, if they’re healthy, they can improve too.” Mars Coach: Dale Boring, second year 2011 record: 10-3 overall, eighth at WPIAL Class AAA championship Returning letterwinners: Senior Scott Slaney; juniors Chris Georgiadis, Frankie Teprini and Gage Zimmerman; sophomore Brendan Knox Coach’s comment: “Scott Slaney is a running freak. He’s not a vocal leader, but he leads by example. He loves running. ... As far as the WPIAL meet is concerned, we expect to be in the hunt.” Girls Seneca Valley Coach: Jim Nagle, eighth year 2011 record: N/A, 6th at WPIAL Class AAA championship Returning letterwinners: Seniors Emily Seibert, Lucy Moore and Raquel Moore; juniors Taryn Latsko and Becky Paine; sophomore Katie Lutz Coach’s comment: “We have a lot more girls than we’ve ever had before, over 30 girls. Our goal is to be better than last year and they believe if they’re healthy, they will be.” Mars Coach: Dale Boring, second year 2011 record: 6-7 overall, eighth at WPIAL Class AAA championship Returning letterwinners: Senior Maggie McChesney; juniors Bethany Catanzaro, Amanda Alikhani and Maria Monberg; sophomores Shannon McChesney and Reilly Butler Coach’s comment: “We’re in Class AA so we expect the kids to get through the WPIAL meet. We lost a couple of close ones and I’d anticipate we’d win three or four more than last year. These girls have the confidence to run with the big dogs in the big race.” Soccer Boys Seneca Valley Coach: George Williams, 18th year On the attack: Ryan Vilella (senior), Anthony Crivelli (senior), Jared Myers (junior), Liam Jackson (senior), Brandon White (senior), Alex Kifer (senior), Dylan Hoffman (junior) On the defensive: Brock Wagner (senior), Colter Cekalla (senior), Brad Hart (senior), Sean Edwards (senior), Danny Wallowicz (sophomore), Joe DeAugustino (junior), Ben McConahy (junior), Andrew Mascio (junior) In the net: Colton Smith (junior) Outlook: The Raiders are coming off a section championship and a trip to the WPIAL semifinals. They also have one of the most dynamic players in the WPIAL back in Vilella. “I think we have some guys who are good scoring threats,” Williams said. “We lost a lot (on defense). It’s hard to get a feel. That’s why you play the games.” Mars Coach: Chris Knauff, sixth year On the attack: Spencer Posey (senior), Nick Martinelli (senior), Matt White (junior) On the defensive: Logan Yeo (senior), Jesse Perfett (junior) In the net: Joe Kelly (senior) Outlook: The Planets have a new goalkeeper after exceptional stopper Garrett Gabriel graduated. Kelly, though, has been impressive in camp and Mars still has high hopes for the season. “Every year you have to fill spots. I don’t think any year is different than the next,” Knauff said. Posey returns as a legitimate scoring threat. “He’ll be the focus of most teams,” Knauff said. Girls Seneca Valley Coach: Dave Sylvester, 12th season Last year: 16-2-2, Section 2-AAA champions, WPIAL quarterfinalist. Top returning players: Seniors Morgan Williams (F), Mischa Demchuk (MF), Alex Bilka (F), Rachel Leake (D) and sophomore Jess Neill (GK). Outlook: “We want to make the playoffs. That’s our No. 1 goal,” said Sylvester. “We’re going to work on getting better every day. If the girls play as a team, they can reach the goals they’ve set for themselves.” Mars Coach: Blair Gerlach, sixth season Last year: 25-0-1, PIAA Class AA champions, WPIAL champions, Section 2-AA champions. Top returning players: Seniors Jordyn White (D), Erica Schwab (D), Bethany Perri (MF), Tricia Glavin (MF) and juniors Shaelyn O’Connor (D), Sarah Dailey (GK), Amber Fichter (MF), Karli Paracca (F). Outlook: “They always find a way to come up with a new challenge. They’re very proud of what they do and the product they put on the field,” said Gerlach. “They’re hungry, ready to battle day in and day out and see if we can at least get close (to the state title) again.” Girls Volleyball Seneca Valley Coach: Karen Martini, seventh year Last Year: 17-1, WPIAL Class AAA champion Starters Lost: Megan Drambell, Alex Karika (Naval Academy), Cate Seman (Rhode Island), Laura Thomas, Emma Carter (Clarion) Starters Returning: Ann Seman (junior libero), Abbie Trezciak (junior middle), Katie Brown (junior middle) In The Mix: Madison Hoffman (senior hitter), Tricia Connelly (senior hitter) Martini says: “We’ve been to the WPIAL Finals three times and semifinals two times in my first six years. We’ve got some experience back and hopefully we’ll start right back on track again. We are developing a new setter, though.” Mars Coach: Dan Mountain, sixth season Last Year: tri-section champion, reached WPIAL quarterfinals Starters Lost: Lara Caraway (Penn State), Maura Randolph, Haley Milcic, Dom Roach Starters Returning: Katie King (senior setter), Emily King (senior middle hitter), Abby Matusik (senior outside hitter), Jaden Zimmer (senior middle hitter), Melanie Dinderman (senior def. specialist) In The Mix: Kelsey Bruce (junior middle hitter), Morgan Verplank (senior hitter) Mountain says: “We want to keep building on what we’ve done the past few years. We’ve won the section and reached the WPIAL quarterfinals pretty much every year I’ve been here. We’re not a team of superstars, but we’re a solid, well-rounded team that can mix and match a lot of players in a lot of different places.” Eagle Staff Writers John Enrietto, Mike Kilroy, Sam Tallarico and Jason Orfao contributed to this report.