Mt. Lebanon girls soccer champions to reunite 20 years later

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Memories can be a kick. Just ask members of the 1992 Mt. Lebanon High School girls varsity soccer team.

On Nov. 21, 1992, player Molly Bushman scored a goal that made local sports history. Her shot clinched the 2-0 victory against Villa Joseph Marie High School in the PIAA finals held at Shippensburg University -- making them the first Mt. Lebanon girls team to win the state soccer championship.

The team ended the season as the WPIAL runner-up with a 23-3-1 record and was ranked 18th in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of their winning season, the 1992 players will reunite for a weekend of celebratory activities Sept. 14-15.

The weekend will begin with an informal get-together at The Saloon on Washington Road at 8 p.m. Sept. 14. The next day, the women will attend the local high school girls' soccer game against Erie McDowell at the home stadium. All former players will be honored at halftime, with special recognition for the 1992 team. Then a party is set at Bados on Beverly Road.

Girls' soccer alumnae and their families are invited to attend any of the events.

The team members were: Heather Border, Molly Bushman, Lauren Clister, Kelly Cross, Brandi Duffy, Debbie Gruneberg, Lindsay Havlin, Stephanie Jardine, Libby Kane, Melissa Klein, Lynn Langston, Tara Lowe, Helen Murray, Kathy Poskie, Jill Siegfried, Rebecca Stoner, Lisa Warno and Sara Yount.

Molly Bushman Higgins, who played center and midfield, recalled the cold day in November that began with anxiety. The first goal was made by Heather Border and was assisted by Ms. Bushman Higgins.

"The excitement just kind of went to the next level as we were realizing that if we keep this momentum going, we could win this," she recalled.

During the second half, Ms. Bushman received a through-pass from Ms. Border. As the goal loomed in front of her and she prepared to kick the ball, she said she had only one thing on her mind.

" 'This is going in the back of the net,' " she said. "There was no other way about it. I had one focus, and that's what did it."

As her teammates exploded with excitement, Ms. Bushman Higgins said most memorable was the reaction of senior Lynn Langston, who ran up and kissed her forehead.

The win was a culmination of years of hard work and practice. Most of the girls on that championship team had played together since they were children on Mt. Lebanon Soccer Association's Lebo Cup and travel teams, Beadling teams and throughout high school.

"All of us had really grown up in Mt. Lebanon soccer ... [this dream] dated back to when we were small children," Ms. Bushman Higgins said.

After graduating from high school in 1994, Ms. Bushman Higgins attended Villanova University, where she earned a degree in accounting and played NCAA Division I soccer for four years as a left midfielder. She then went to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers

She now owns a Jazzercise franchise in Philadelphia and lives in Chester, N.J., with her husband, Patrick Higgins, and daughters Grace, 8, Gretchen, 5, and Margo, 3. This fall she will begin her third season coaching the West Morris Soccer Club in Mendham, N.J. Her daughters play with the club.

Ms. Bushman Higgins said she is looking forward to returning to Mt. Lebanon and reuniting with the women with whom she formed a strong bond on and off the field.

"I know we're going to laugh the whole time and just reminisce and story-tell," she said.

Lynn Langston Tomb called the 1992 win a "life memorable moment."

"To be able to share it with that group of women was awesome," she said. "It was the cherry on top of my senior year."

She graduated in 1993 and attended the University of Hartford in Hartford, Conn., where she was a defensive player on the Division I soccer team.

An injury led her to transfer to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where she graduated with a bachelor's degree in interior design. She returned home and opened Langston Interiors, an interior design company located in Mt. Lebanon.

Ms. Langston Tomb resides in Upper St. Clair and is married to her high school sweetheart and former soccer player, Geoff Tomb, class of 1991. They have a daughter Catie, 10, and son Liam. 5.

Ms. Langston Tomb coaches for the Upper St. Clair Athletic Association recreation soccer team, of which Liam is a member.

Ms. Langston Tomb said she is looking forward to seeing the women who were such an important part of her life -- and for so long. "We grew up playing soccer together, so by the time we got to high school we had a camaraderie that was years in the making," she said.

That bond among the players is what Libby Kane Mascaro said made those four years of playing soccer as a forward for the high school as some of the best years of her life.

Her career with the sport began when she was 4, playing indoor soccer for the Y-Winners Soccer League.

"Playing soccer was the only thing I ever really wanted to do," she said. "It was my life."

Ms. Kane Mascaro graduated in 1995 and attended Penn State University for two years, where she played Big Ten soccer. While there, her team won the Big Ten championship and made it to the NCAA Tournament, but lost in the first round.

Then, when her mother became ill, she returned home and completed her degree at Robert Morris University, and then worked for Pfizer as a pharmaceutical rep for five years.

She is a fitness instructor at the Upper St. Clair Recreation Center and lives in Upper St. Clair with her husband, Michael, and daughters Mary, 5, and Abby, 3.

Ms. Kane Mascaro coached Mary's pre-school team and will coach her kindergarten team this fall. And she has returned to her alma mater as a volunteer coach for the high school girls' soccer team alongside former classmate and head coach Aaron Panczyk, class of 1995.

"It's an honor to be there and to be on the other side of the ball," she said. "I love to be with the girls. ... They love to hear stories."

One story that will no doubt be retold at the upcoming reunion is the legendary win.

Heather Border said she doesn't clearly recall the goal she made that set her team up 1-0 that day, but she vividly remembers assisting the game-winning kick.

The ball was in the middle of the field when she said she swiped it over to Ms. Bushman.

"She came flying down the center and just ripped off a wicked shot," she said. "It was so surreal. That victory is one that I'll never forget. ... It was the best feeling to wear that first-ever gold medal."

Ms. Border graduated in 1994 and attended Duquesne University, where she was a forward on the Division I soccer team. After earning a master's degree in sports management, she worked as a graduate assistant at the university for two years before assuming her role as assistant athletic director at Sewickley Academy.

Now living in Scott, Ms. Border is also assistant varsity coach of the girls' soccer and softball teams at the school.

Ms. Border recalled gathering for team dinners and attending Friday night football games together.

"We truly were the best of friends on and off the field. That's what really helped us gel on the field as a team," she said. "We were solid from front to back and on the bench. That was a special, special group of girls."

Details: www.facebook.com/groups/279187635480809/

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Shannon Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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