East Xtra: Obama has hopes to rule City League
Leeza Marie Tokarski was a standout on the soccer pitch for Schenley last season. This season she is playing for Obama Academy in the City League.
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They have big goals and big dreams.
They are prepared to achieve a lot of firsts.
Sounds like a certain President of the United States of America but that also pertains to the Obama Academy girls soccer team in its first season of existence.
University Prep, Science & Technology Academy and Obama Academy will play together in a City League co-operative agreement under the name Obama.
"It is a historic season," first-year coach Marlin Woods said. "It is incredible to be a part of it. With this being under the Obama banner, named after the current President of the United States, this is special.
"I told the girls we have big dreams, big goals and we have all the components to achieve them. We are very excited, this is monumental and there will be a lot of firsts."
Woods previously coached with the Pittsburgh Dynamo soccer club before being chosen for the job. He was recommended by former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Logan, who assisted with the coaching search.
This is the first high school coaching stint for Woods.
He inherits most of the players from the defending City League champion Schenley. Before the school closed, Schenley had won the past four City League championships dating back to 2007. They met Allderdice in all four of those games and never allowed the Dragons to score a single goal while Schenley netted eight in four title games.
By winning the City League championship, Schenley received a berth into the PIAA tournament.
"There is continuity because a lot of these girls played together last year," Woods said. "But there are also several girls who have never played soccer. So we are working out some kinks."
Senior midfielder Leeza Marie Tokarski has been a big piece of those last three City League championships. She scored 34 goals last season to lead the City League.
Obama opened its first season with a 6-2 loss at Quigley Catholic. It was scheduled to travel to Carlynton on Wednesday and McKeesport Saturday before beginning City League play next Monday at Perry.
Allderdice is ranked No. 1 in the Post-Gazette City League preseason rankings, just ahead of No. 2 Obama.
"I believe that we are absolutely ready to compete against Allderdice," Woods said. "One would assume they are the team to beat and they might be the heavy favorites. A lot of these girls won City championships at Schenley, however, and we have what it takes to beat them."
Woods grew up in East Liberty and Shadyside and attended Peabody High School where he ran track. He played soccer for the former Pittsburgh Dynamo club team back when it was the Schenley Dynamo. He currently lives in Edgewood where he is a pastor at a local church. He also works at State Farm as a financial planner.
Tokarski is not the only returning starter back from last year's Schenley team. Senior sweeper Angela Perfetti, senior center back Irina Konefal-Shaer, senior right back Renee Eddy Harvey and sophomore goalie Ashley Coleman all started on the final Schenley team.
Despite only taking the job in August, Woods is well aware of the City League rivalry between Allderdice and the former Schenley players.
"Sept. 19," Woods recalled from memory. "That is when we face Allderdice, that is the big game of the year."
First Published September 8, 2011 12:00 am