Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Riverview Girls Cope with Adversity

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Riverview Girls Cope with Adversity

Article excerpt

It would be hard to imagine a team enduring a more emotional season than what the Riverview High School girls' soccer team has been through this fall.

On the one hand, the Raiders have shed their also-ran reputation in Section 3-AA to become a darkhorse contender for the WPIAL title under new coach Andre "Monty" Santos.

Their 12-4 overall record and 10-4 section mark includes a 1-0 triumph on Sept. 13 against defending state champion Sewickley Academy.

"In all the soccer I've ever played, it was the best moment I've ever had," said team captain Kaitlyn Strahler, a senior center midfielder.

Sadly, on Oct. 9 great sorrow touched upon the team when John Altman, 23, the brother of starting freshman striker Jillian Altman, died suddenly.

"John was at every single one of our games," said Strahler. "It hit every single person on the team."

Most of the players didn't learn about the tragedy until just before the game with Springdale that afternoon, which had been moved up from Wednesday. Many of them had just taken their SAT exams.

Jillian dressed for the game, but did not play, with senior Katie Petraitis taking her place up front. With such an emotional burden on their shoulders the Raiders struggled against the Dynamos (1- 13), but a goal by outside midfielder Emily Dolhi in the second overtime allowed Riverview to prevail, 2-1.

"We wanted to win it for him and Jillian," said Strahler.

On the field Jillian Altman has been perhaps the Raiders' biggest surprise. In just her fourth varsity game she was the player who scored in the win over Sewickley and Santos has praised her speed and ability to learn.

"I would like to say Jill is a great player and a fabulous person. Unfortunately she has experienced a major hardship. She has to learn from it and become a stronger person," said Santos, trying to offer guidance in a difficult situation.

She also has become something of a lighthearted leader.

"Most of the time freshmen are nervous," said Strahler. "Instead, she's outgoing. …

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