Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has been known to say, “If our team doesn’t face enough adversity early on in a season, I create it. Nothing builds a team like adversity.”
“We know that this year we are the underdog for the section title,” says senior defender Theresa Heidenreich. “That’s new to us. It is taking a lot of teamwork and camaraderie for us to overcome that as a team, but we have a great group of seniors leading the team and we’ve played together since elementary school. Our greatest source of confidence comes from believing in each other.”
Theresa, a second-year starter, is not only is known for her runs up and down the field and bringing numbers to the attack, she also is a smart, quick thinker. That’s not surprising considering her excellence in the classroom. By the time she graduates next year, she will have taken 11 Advanced Placement (AP) classes.
What’s more, her talents stretch way beyond the field. She is an author who wrote a novel in ninth grade under the pen name T Berry Jones, plays violin in the school orchestra, sings in the choir, and, after school in the off season, teaches STEM-related classes to elementary- age school girls.
You can deduce that Theresa is motivated, hard-working, and competitive – traits that serve her on the field as well, especially after the new WPIAL alignment placed them with some of the best teams in the northern section of the WPIAL.
“Theresa has really shown a lot of growth, and provides a stable presence amid challenges, which is an example to our younger players. She asks a lot of questions and accepts responsibility for her play,” says head coach Peter Torres. “She is not only one of the most coachable athletes that I have encountered; she is a role model in that she does not think she is above any task. She demonstrates that daily by doing things that normally are expected of the younger players, such as gathering equipment and collecting soccer balls during practice.”
Anchoring the other end of the field at forward and center midfield is fellow senior Sarah Sinnott, whose skills and abilities to distribute the ball and read the game earned her a scholarship to play at the University of Pittsburgh. She also has been named to the WPIAL Class AAAA all-section first teams twice by both the Western Pennsylvania High School Girls’ Soccer Coaches Association and the Big 56 Conference. Additionally, last year as a junior, she was named to the all-WPIAL team.
“Yes, this year we are playing harder teams than in our previous section; however, I think it is benefiting us in that we will know what to expect come playoffs,” says Sarah, who was the leading scorer on the team last year with 19 goals and eight assists. “I think it’s forced our team to focus from the start of the season. We know we have to work hard during every game, but I think playing better games and better soccer earlier in the season can help us to progress faster.”
“Sarah is an obvious D-I player,” says Coach Torres. “Her ability to bend the ball and score was evident in the game against Butler when she hit a 22-yard shot that bent into the far upper corner of the goal. She has a strong physical presence on the field and has one of the best first touches that I’ve ever seen.”
While the team started off the regular season with a revenge victory against non-section opponent Penn-Trafford, who eliminated them in the WPIAL semifinals last season, the team did drop that game against Butler in a tough fight, but bounced back to defeat North Hills and Shaler Area high schools the next week.
The team successfully fought off adversity in the past on their way to earning three consecutive section championships and finishing as WPIAL semifinalists in two of the past three years.
And, for Theresa, Sarah, and fellow seniors Maura Curry, Kate Feczko, Sabrina McQuarrie, Julie Scheffler, and Lexie Schutzman, the standard remains the standard, no matter who the team plays or how tough the competition gets.
Just ask Mike Tomlin.