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High expectations set to become a reality

Girls’ soccer team kicks off the season with three wins

On+me%21+On+we%21+The+girls+huddle+up+to+get+their+adrenaline+pumping+before+taking+on+Keystone+Oaks.
On me! On we! The girls huddle up to get their adrenaline pumping before taking on Keystone Oaks.

On me! On we! The girls huddle up to get their adrenaline pumping before taking on Keystone Oaks.

On me! On we! The girls huddle up to get their adrenaline pumping before taking on Keystone Oaks.

Casey Collins, Asst. Sports Editor

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A new year means a new season. For the Freedom Girls Soccer Team, a new season means a shot at PIAA state playoff redemption. Last year’s WPIAL class AA champions are making their way into what is expected to be another outstanding season.  

The girls kicked off their season on Saturday, Sept. 2, at Ambridge’s annual Labor Day tournament. They took on Slippery Rock, establishing an early dominance and finishing the game with an 8-1 win. Junior Myla Sharpless led the team in scoring with four goals.

On Sept. 3, the girls were back in action, taking on West Allegheny and winning by a score of 5-2 with junior Alexsia Barlamas leading the Bulldogs with two goals. The team ended the day with another win over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, shutting out the Chargers with an 8-0 score. Michaela Watkins and Alexsia Barlamas both led the team with three goals each. 21 goals scored vs. the three that were given up during the tournament are evidence of the strong defense led by Freedom’s returning back line.

Following the tournament, the girls went on to take on Avonworth, beginning conference play with a 2-1 win over the Antelopes. Watkins and Sharpless scoring a goal and Senior goalkeeper, Jacklyn Hartle recording 10 saves.

The team lost three seniors last year, including Alexa Schwab, who set a Freedom single season record with 35 goals her junior year, but was out for the majority of her senior season with a foot injury.

The rest of the team is returning including Watkins and Sharpless. Both were credited with 20 plus goals through 21 games last season. They will be joined by nine other starters with varsity experience from last year.

“Everyone is getting along really well. This trust in one another will help us through tough minutes during games,” Sharpless said. In 2016, the girls recorded 13 shutouts in 21 games, outscoring all opponents 83-11.

Coach Colin WIlliams attributes his team’s success and many lopsided victories to their exceptional ball movement and ability to shoot.

“Myla Sharpless from the midfield and Makayla Watkins up front, they’re just dynamic and I think that pulls us a little bit of an edge over everyone else,” Williams said.

Talent, skill and teamwork are key to replicate last year’s undefeated WPIAL playoff run. But this team has their eyes set on making it back to the PIAA playoffs to seize vengeance on last year’s first round loss and turn it into a victory, which in turn, will spring them toward the PIAA state championship game. Beginning the season with three straight wins, gives the reigning champions that same sweet taste of winning fever they tasted all of last year.

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Freedom Area High School's Student Newspaper
High expectations set to become a reality