After a year of missing out on the postseason, the Chargers of Our Lady of Sacred Heart are eager and determined to get back.
Led by first-year head coach Bob DeMino, the Chargers are in good position to return but still have a lot of work to do.
This year's OLSH team is a lot different than in year's past. Although they are led by a handful of seniors, the Chargers are very young and rely on a collective group effort to get the job done.
"We have seven girls who have scored goals this season," DeMino said. "We have 11 girls who have an assist. I think that says a lot in itself. We are not a team that will be losing our all-star scorer after this year. This team is going to be good for a few years as long as we can stay healthy and work hard."
One of the top goal scorers is freshman Olivia Muha with eight goals. The Chargers have also relied on senior captains Lindsay Zuccaro, Jen Haseleu, Danielle Vescio and Holly Lisco.
Lisco has served as a savior for the Chargers between the post, recording 119 saves thus far on the season.
"She has kept us in a lot of games," DeMino said. "She is very helpful in the backfield."
DeMino wasn't sure how this team would fare after graduating a plethora of talent last year and losing a few more due to other circumstances, but has been pleased with the amount of success he has seen on the field.
"We graduated 10 seniors last year," DeMino said. "My history is that seniors fall off. These four girls have completely stayed grounded and developed unbelievable chemistry. They even call their own practices on the weekend to kick the ball around."
"I had one girl transfer and another girl switch sports and another get injured before the season. You lose players that you expect to add to the team. We are going to patch this thing together and find the right combination."
The Chargers formula worked early on in the season, jumping out to a perfect 5-0 mark in Class A Section 1. But the Chargers hit a rough patch in their season last week.
OLSH lost three section matches to Sewickley Academy, New Brighton and Mohawk, but it wasn't for the lack of competing or being outplayed.
"We have had some unlucky bounces in the last week but that is what this sport is about," DeMino said. "We outplayed Mohawk the whole game and we were unfortunate that our player deflected the ball in the net in the first overtime.
"Finishing has been one of our problems the whole season. I would say we outplayed our opponents about 80 percent of the time. We didn't play our style during those games."
The Chargers were able to halt the losing streak at three on Monday night, returning to the win column with a 4-2 win against Quigley Catholic.
Throughout the season De-Mino has seen the growth in his young team and knows the bad patch in the season is behind them and that the girls were not aware what comes with being undefeated in the conference.
"We finally found the lineup that can work for us and it has been very helpful," DeMino said.
"One thing I told our girls is that no one expected us to be 5-0-0. These girls are different. They are not talking about playoffs. They just play the game at hand. When you are 5-0-0, you are on top and everyone wants to knock you out. We don't have that one person to step up and take charge."
OLSH sits in second place in Section 1-A with a 7-3-0 section record, 7-5-0 overall. The Chargers will have a chance to leapfrog the two teams in front of them when they play Neshannock (7-1-3, 6-1-2) twice and Sewickley Academy (6-4-2, 6-2-2) to end the regular season.
"Quite frankly our girls haven't focused or looked at anything other than one game at a time," DeMino said. "Our section is so evenly matched. It is amazing I think every team possesses an equal opportunity. I respect every team in our section."
"I think that we can make the playoffs. I see how much we have matured throughout the season. Everything that I have seen so far this year I feel like our team has been the most impressive team in the section."hssoccer