After winning three consecutive section titles, the Fox Chapel girls soccer team intends to add to that streak.
But the Foxes will have their work cut out as they move from Section 3-4A to Section 1-4A under the WPIAL’s new realignment.
Fox Chapel will be in a grouping of teams in the geographic northern tier of Class 4A.
“It always a goal to aim for the section title,” fifth-year coach Peter Torres said. “However, we’re in the north (area) now; we have to understand the competition in the north is a whole lot different. But the expectations are the same; you always want to have high standards.”
The 2017 Foxes were 9-1 in section play, 13-6 overall, defeating Butler in an opening-round playoff game before dropping a 3-2 decision to eventual WPIAL champion Penn-Trafford.
Now the Foxes will be playing, among others, Butler, North Allegheny and last year’s No. 1 seed, Pine-Richland.
The Foxes graduated just two starters from last season, including defender Katie Livingston (7 goals, 2 assists), now playing at Denison of Ohio, and Greta Lazzara (8 goals, 4 assists), now at Case Western Reserve.
Fox Chapel’s top returning player is Sarah Sinnott, who signed with Pitt. Sinnott had 19 goals and eight assists.
Sinnott said she chose Pitt because of the similarity of style with the Fox Chapel team and contacts with the coaching staff.
Torres can choose from a pair of outstanding goalkeepers in seniors Kate Feczko and Julie Scheffler.
Senior Sabrina McQuarrie and junior Blair Echnat are expected to contribute heavily.
“I think we definitely can continue the streak of section titles,” Sinnott said. “We have younger girls stepping up, including sophomores. I think it will be a lot harder of a section than it was last year. It will be good for us. The seniors and the varsity players who played last year know what to expect.”
Sophomores Emma Wecht and Lucy Ream are also being counted on.
Recently, Sinnott, Feczko, Ream and Wecht appeared in the U.S. Youth Soccer Nationals in Frisco, Texas, with their respective club teams.
Looking toward the finer points of the game, Torres is looking for someone proficient in headers like Livingston was last year – someone willing to mix it up in front of the opponents’ goal area.
Fox Chapel played Franklin Regional in a scrimmage Monday. One reason is Torres likes the way Franklin Regional comes out of the break.
“I like the changes they make when they come out of a break,” Torres said. “They got us one season where we came out of a halftime feeling very confident, winning 1-0, and they scored a goal in the first four minutes based on a formation shift that our girls didn’t adjust to.”
Fox Chapel likes a challenge, and the Foxes will open the season with a rematch at home with Penn-Trafford at 11 a.m. Sept. 1.
“We start off with Penn-Trafford because you want to see teams from other areas and their strengths and weaknesses,” Torres said. “This is a game where you can experiment, try some players in new positions and formations. Based on their success last year, it’s natural that you’d want to schedule them.”
The team has made the WPIAL playoffs each of the past 10 seasons.
George Guido is a freelance writer.