It is very seldom that you see a team go from worst to first in a two-year span, but that is exactly what has happened with the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School girls soccer team.
Two years ago, the Lady Marauders had a tough time just trying to play competitively with teams in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference. This year, with only a single loss to Forest Hills, they have captured the conference championship over all of the traditional league powerhouses. The exclamation point on their season came on a matchup with Class AAAA Altoona on the Mansion Park turf. BG captured the crosstown rivalry, 5-2, and did an incredible job executing a great tactical strategy by controlling the midfield, using its speed to its advantage and pushing the ball up to the front line for some excellent scoring opportunities.
The team has notched 129 goals thus far this season, 88 assists and held the opposition to an average of 1.375 goals per game. What's even more surprising is that coach Harry McGhee's team has done this starting only one senior while having five freshmen and three sophomores in the starting lineup. McGhee has seen a huge development in the maturity of the players, even as this year's season progresses, with balance at defense, midfield and strikers playing up top.
Sophomore Alyssa McGhee has amassed 67 goals thus far this season and eclipsed the coveted career 100-goal mark early in the 2013 season. McGhee has seen recognition on the national level as her point standings with goals and assists have placed her as tops in the nation.
Teammate Delaney Myrick is not far behind, as the freshman currently ranks 29th in the nation in total points for high school players. The stinginess on defense has been led by freshman defender Sierra Miller and the one-two punch of senior goalie Gabby Smith and freshman goaltender Devon Yingling, who split time in goal. Assistant coach Faber Moyer, long-time goaltender, handles all goalkeeping coaching responsibilities for the squad and feels working both their senior keeper and freshman goalie into their games has been an asset to the squad.
The Lady Marauders look to be a very strong contender for the District 6 Class A crown when playoffs begin on Oct. 24 and have a legitimate chance to progress far into the state PIAA championships.
n Although scholastic soccer is still in full swing, indoor soccer is geared up to begin in the area. Mike Alianiello, soccer director of the Summit Athletic Club for the sixth year, has teams in place to begin its indoor blaster board season starting on the weekend of Oct. 25-27. Teams are set to run from U8 age brackets to the adult 18-and-over bracket. He currently has 58 teams ready to begin play. This initial indoor session will run until Dec. 15, with a second session to begin on the weekend of Jan. 24. The club will still hold its three primary tournaments, which draw hundreds of teams every year. They are the Dec. 7-8 Summit Indoor Classic, Jan. 18-19 Juniata College-sponsored tourney at the Summit, and the PSU-Altoona women's team tournament, open to all ages at the Summit on Feb. 15-16. Alianiello is looking to add an over-40 bracket to the tournaments held there if he can attract enough teams to merit it.
n The Hollidaysburg Area YMCA is looking to hold a Futsal (no walls utilized) indoor soccer league for ages U6, U8, U10, U12 and U14 from Oct. 29-Dec 7. The no-walled, touchline-based Futsal play is believed to promote better ball control, foot skills and first touch, while the indoor blaster board play is liked by many because it is extremely fast-paced and physical.
Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.