Despite the loss of 10 seniors from last year, including seven starters, and the loss of two starters due to injury, the name of the game is still the same for Moon Area -- defense.
The Tigers 2013 edition looks a lot like the 2012 one that road a stifling defense to a PIAA Class AA championship.
Moon had 12 regular-season shutouts last year. This year the Tigers posted 13. The Tigers finished the regular season with a 17-1 record and shared the Section 5-AA title with Quaker Valley at 13-1.
After losing its leading scorer from last year, Antonia Grese, along with three midfielders, the defense was going to have to be the unit to carry the team this season but the way the new-look lineup has played this year has surprised some.
"We're doing a lot better than a lot of people expected," Moon coach Bill Pfeiffer said. "Since I have been here, we pride ourselves on playing pretty tough in the back and not giving up many goals and giving ourselves chances."
Moon's only loss this season came on Sept. 18 at Quaker Valley, a 2-1 setback.
"The kids are young and the loss really didn't affect them, I don't think," Pfeiffer said. "They didn't know any better. We played well and we had more than enough chances to win the game but they have moved on and have been working hard."
Moon responded by reeling off 10 consecutive wins, including a crucial 3-1 win against the Quakers (17-1, 13-1) in a rematch on Oct. 5 that kept the Tigers' hopes for a section title -- or at least a share of it -- alive.
Out of section Moon has posted impressive wins, including a season-opening 1-0 win against Seneca Valley, a Class AAA team that has only lost twice all season. Moon also rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win, 2-1, at Hampton, another solid Class AAA program.
Moon has shut out the likes of Montour, North Hills, South Fayette (twice), West Allegheny (twice) and Keystone Oaks.
"I still think we have the target on us because of what the kids have done in the past," Pfeifer said. "I think going into the year, a lot of teams looked at this year as their chance for maybe a little bit of payback, but our kids have responded. The kids are having fun and enjoying themselves."
There was plenty of talent lost from last year but also plenty of talent back with players such as senior defender Sydney Schipani, junior forward Kallie Conte and senior outside midfielder Amanda Kachaylo.
The defense features four new starters playing in front of a new goalkeeper, senior Kylie Downs who is in place for senior Macey Thomas, a West Virginia Wesleyan recruit who is out with an injury. The four new defenders are juniors Casey Roth and Brianna Burgunder and sophomores Katie Turner and Natalie Spangler.
"It has been more of a team effort, it hasn't just been one kid every night," Pfeiffer said. "Last year you knew what you were going to get from the same three kids. This year it is more spread around."
Spangler and Burgunder are center backs while Turner and Roth play on the outside of the defense.
In the midfield Schipani has been a force for the Tigers.
"She directs the team," Pfeiffer said. "She sees a lot of things soccer-wise. The kids play off her, they take her direction and we go from there.
"It would have been easy for her and Kali and the other returning starters that were with that group last year just to show up and put their time in, but they have really stepped up. It is contagious and winning is a habit. They don't want to lose."
First Published October 16, 2013 8:00 PM