The fact that the Quaker Valley High School girls soccer team was off to a 5-0 start (before Wednesday's match at Keystone Oaks) should come as no surprise.
Quaker Valley returned eight of its 11 starters from last season and those returning starters bring experience and leadership ... and, more importantly, goals. Of the eight returning starters, two accounted for 40 of the team's 68 goals last season.
Senior forward Greer Monahan and sophomore attacking midfielder Moriah Wigley are two of the top returning goal scorers in the WPIAL this season. Monahan led the team with 23 goals a year ago and Wigley had 17.
The duo is a big reason why the Quakers have started the season so strong, outscoring opponents, 25-5. Monahan had 11 goals through five games and Wigley, after missing the season's first two games with an injury, had six goals in three games.
The 5-0 start was punctuated with a 2-1 win against Class A power and crosstown rival Sewickley Academy. It was the first time Quaker Valley had defeated its nearby rival in six seasons. Sophomore midfielder Julia Stinson gave Quaker Valley a 1-0 lead and after the Panthers tied it before halftime, Wigley came up with the game-winner in the second half.
Quaker Valley also defeated Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Highlands in the Avonworth tournament and began Class AA Section 5 play with an important 3-1 win at South Fayette. The Quakers also dispatched Carrick, 7-2, on Monday.
"We are really just trying to find out who we are and trying to solidify our style of play as we really get deeper into the section," Quaker Valley coach Mike Pastor said. "We know it is really about how you are playing at the end, rather than the beginning."
Section 5 figures to be one of the more challenging in the WPIAL with defending PIAA Class AA champion Moon Area and a Montour team that returns 10 starters along with strong teams such as Quaker Valley and South Fayette.
"It is pretty brutal," Pastor said. "It is a very good section and we are going to have one good team that is not going to make the playoffs and that is part of having so many quality opponents. Beating South Fayette was big for us. Despite all the players Moon [graduated], I still think they are the favorite."
With the 1-2 scoring punch of Monahan and Wigley, Quaker Valley should be in the discussion as a section favorite as well.
"It is phenomenal having Greer and Moriah back," Pastor said. "It has been a huge advantage to be able to put the ball in the net and be solid enough defensively. We are hopeful that we can keep the other team's goals down."
Monahan and Wigley can both fill up the net and both are similar type players.
"Greer is a workhorse, she is a scrapper," Pastor said. "She has a big shot and she can hit it from anywhere but she tends to score most of her goals by outworking her opponent. She can play with her back to the goal and she tries to find her teammates. If she doesn't score the goal, she probably has a hand in it. Her biggest strength is her work rate."
Wigley can play either midfield or forward in Quaker Valley's 4-4-2 formation.
"Moriah has a nose for goals," Pastor said. "She tries to find the best situation where she can get goals. Both are skillful players and they are goal scorers. Their instinct is to go forward."
The only positions Quaker Valley graduated from last season were center midfield, a center back and goalkeeper. Senior center midfielder Kara Rollock is one of the top returners on the team.
"She is the heart of the team in the center of the field," Pastor said. "We try to play through her."
Quaker Valley won 16 games last season and finished second in Section 5 with a 12-2 record. The Quakers' only section losses were to Moon.
In the WPIAL playoffs Quaker Valley shut out Highlands, 3-0, in the first round before running into eventual WPIAL champion Mars Area in the quarterfinals. Quaker Valley fell to Mars, 2-0.
First Published September 12, 2013 4:00 AM