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Lady Tigers making waves

October 25, 2007
The Altoona Mirror
As playoffs draw near in local scholastic soccer, many observations may be made of 2007 high school soccer.

One of the most interesting stories of the year is the Hollidaysburg Golden Tiger girls’ squad which is a story entitled youth will be served.

Half of the Golden Tiger field starters are freshman including Golden Tiger scoring machines Mackenzie Walter and Taylor Vladic. They have worked with center striker Ashlynn Soellner, a junior, who is deadly in her own right and backed up by freshman midfielder Jamie McConnell, who has a cannon for a leg and can easily hit the long outside shot on keepers. With a defense anchored by senior Kelly Michanowicz and supported in the back by the strong play of freshmen, Sarah Cobbler and Taylor Wolf, the Lady Tigers are going to be an increasingly strong force, not only in the district, but in the state over the next couple of years.

It is not a lucky coincidence that these freshmen gel so well. They have been continually playing together since the age of 7 or 8. For four seasons (fall and spring sessions), Mount Aloysius coach, Mike Vladic, took them over to Pittsburgh to play Division A without dropping a single game to Pittsburgh’s finest youth teams.

Altoona boys’ coach, Dave Alexander has continued to work with the girls most of the year. They will have their hands full this year with State College Little Lion girls, who will be favored to capture District 6, but don’t be surprised to see them playing for State Gold in 2 years.

The Altoona boys’ and girls’ teams remain a bit of a mystery. The boys were preseason favorite for a long-awaited district crown , but after pounding State College in their first meeting, Altoona went out to drop two big games to Hollidaysburg, which hasn’t happened in years.

The Hollidaysburg boys have looked sharp at times, but have dropped some very winnable key games. State College has nowhere near the individual talent they have had in past years, but their coach Jon Marsden has owned post season play for well over a decade and always gets the most of his players while exploiting other teams weaknesses. The District 6 title is really up for grabs this year and should prove for interesting playoff games.

Local football coaches are finally realizing the benefits of utilizing soccer players to anchor their kicking game. They have been vital to Altoona coach Phil Riccio’s special teams, and Bishop Guilfoyle’s used girls’ soccer standout Amanda James. This could come to be more the rule than the exception in years to come.

Avid USA Women’s World Cup fans had to be bitterly disappointed with the play and outcome of the USA semifinal game with Brazil. Brazil dominated totally from the opening whistle and were constantly on the attack. Unfortunately, their power was all spent on USA, and they were KO’d by Germany in the finals as the American’s captured the bronze.

There has been a change of control at the helm of the Altoona Soccer Club. Long time, behind the scenes workhorse Mitch Swanger has replaced former president Lester Weiss. Swanger’s primary goals are to get more younger teams registered with the club and to keep field and playing conditions in absolute peak shape.

Lastly, congratulations to the Altoona junior and senior high girls’ soccer teams, which have provided ongoing support and love for former teammate freshmen Allison Schmitt who was suddenly stricken with ovarian cancer at age 15. Allison continues to undergo chemotherapy treatments in Pittsburgh Magee Women’s Hospital and remains hopeful to return to play spring travel soccer with her teammates.

Schmitt comments on the local soccer scene for the Mirror.

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