Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Young Pine-Richland Survives Early Battle

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Young Pine-Richland Survives Early Battle

Article excerpt

The typical learning curve afforded most teams at the beginning of a season was not something applicable to the Pine-Richland girls soccer team.

After graduation and myriad of season-ending injuries, the Rams opened the season with only four returning starters. The new starters would have to assimilate quickly as the second week of the regular season brought a Class AAA, Section 2 gauntlet.

After two non-section tune-ups, Pine-Richland was to play Seneca Valley, Hampton, Butler and North Allegheny in the span of one week.

"It is a group of first-year starters but experienced soccer players," coach Jodi Chmielewski said. "We just had to accelerate that learning curve because we couldn't wait, we had to be ready to win early. If you drop some games or even if you go .500 it puts you in a bad spot."

Pine-Richland looked like a veteran squad in running the section gauntlet by shutting out its first three opponents and finishing the week 4-0. The Rams won 2-0 at Seneca Valley, won 3-0 vs. Hampton and won 3-0 at Butler. Friday against North Allegheny Pine- Richland posted a 2-1 victory.

Seneca Valley is the defending section champion. It did not lose a section contest last year and lost only one game overall. North Allegheny and Butler finished third and fourth in the section behind second-place Pine-Richland last year.

"It is huge," Chmielewski said of her team's start. "Those four games in a week's time can really impact your season. Getting off to that start, we couldn't ask for more. It is huge in putting us on the right path and keeping us in contention for the section."

Pine-Richland started section play last season 3-1 and went on to win 15 total games and reach the WPIAL playoffs. The Rams were knocked off by Fox Chapel, 1-0, in the first round.

The returning cast from that team is headlined by junior forward Amanda Kalin, one of the top two-sport standouts in the state. Kalin was named all-section in basketball and soccer. The 5-foot-8 Kalin was recruited to play soccer at Rutgers as a goalie. She verbally committed to Rutgers but is keeping her options open as she is also being heavily recruited to play basketball. …

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