South Xtra: South Park in rare rebuilding mode
Sophomore Krista Mosi, shown warming up against West Mifflin before a match last week, has moved into goal for South Park, replacing injured Sierra Davis.
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There was the graduation of key starters after last season.
There were offseason injuries.
Then the season began with even more injuries and then something that had not happened in over five years -- a section loss.
The term "rebuilding" was thrown out by South Park coach Shelly Thropp.
The only thing is "rebuilding" has a different definition with the South Park girls' soccer team. Despite losing five starters due to graduation and six total players, including four starters to injury early in the season, the expectations around the program are still the same -- win the section title and be a significant factor in the playoffs.
"I would still think we would be in the top three in our section and have a good run in the playoffs," Thropp said.
The injury-ravaged Eagles began the season with a 1-0 loss to Class AAA power Pine-Richland in the South Hills Classic. Five days later it bounced back to blank section foe West Mifflin 4-0 and extend its section unbeaten streak to 67 games but on Monday night it was upset at home by Belle Vernon Area, 1-0.
It was South Park's first section loss since Oct. 4, 2006.
Any South Park loss is rare, but especially a section loss.
Last season it went 20-2-2. It's only two losses were to WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion Mars Area and its only ties were to WPIAL Class AAA champion Upper St. Clair and PIAA Class AAA champion Peters Township.
That 2011 campaign seems like a long time ago.
Returning all-section goalie, Sierra Davis will miss her entire senior year after suffering an injury during her cup season last March.
"We are hurting and we are young," Thropp said. "But it is not like we don't have any talent. We are just finding out who we are."
In Davis' place, sophomore Krista Mosi stepped in and she has kept her team in games early on against a tough schedule.
"We miss the seniority of Sierra, but Krista is a really good goalie. She has kept us in games and she will keep us in a lot of games this year," Thropp said.
Thropp has to replace two center backs who graduated after last season.
"It is pretty tough, we are really thin in the back with numbers, it will be interesting," Thropp said.
While seemingly being on cruise control the past six years as her team piled up section wins, section titles and postseason wins, Thropp has found herself faced with one of the biggest challenges of her coaching career.
"I have probably done more coaching in the last couple of games than I have done in five years, just because of the number of kids we are missing," Thropp said.
"We are trying to fill holes and people are getting hurt and then we're trying to fill those holes."
Returning seniors in the lineup include defenders Danielle Carmen and Molly Massimino, attacking midfielder Kylie Snodgrass and forward Taylor Barum, the team's top returning goal scorer.
Senior midfielder Nikki Mazur is battling an ankle injury that has forced her to miss a few weeks but Thropp expects her back soon.
"I think we are capable of competing, it is just a matter of finding out what kind of team we are going to be and who the players are who are going to step up," Thropp said. "We have good leadership but we are going to be younger, and there is a little bit of rebuilding."
Sophomore midfielder Monica Davison returns after playing a full season alongside all-section player Christie Chiesa. Thropp believes junior Katherine Hartner can develop into one of the top goal-scorers in the section.
South Park was scheduled to return to section action Wednesday at Elizabeth Forward before playing host to Thomas Jefferson Monday as the Eagles hope to begin a new section winning streak.