Joy might best describe the atmosphere surrounding the Bethel Park High School girls soccer team.
With nine returning starters, the Black Hawks anticipate improving upon last year’s 9-7 mark that left them out of the playoff hunt against competitive programs like Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon, Moon and Canon-McMillan.
BP maintains its optimism in spite of all the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Of course, we have protocol that we have to follow, but the girls have done a phenomenal job with following the guidelines and being safe,” said head coach Missy DalBon. “I think everyone definitely has a greater appreciation for the opportunity to play the game we love as well as just being together as a team.”
Unity, experience and enthusiasm are reasons why the Black Hawks have the potential to exceed expectations.
“We have a lot of returning starters and experience,” said DalBon. “This group of girls is also extremely positive, encouraging and supportive of one another.”
Rachel Toth, Teagan Mehalko and Lily Gaston set the attitude. They share duties as captains.
Toth is a senior defender while Mehalko and Gaston are returning All-Section performers in the midfield. A junior, Gaston also led the club in scoring last season.
In addition to Toth, the Black Hawks return three others starters in the back. Senior Abbey Karstensen anchors the unit in goal. Freshman Alex Fancus is the back-up.
Senior Alena Kauric and junior Julie Heh also start on defense. Seniors Abigail Cannon and Zoe Knight can also aid the defense.
Other Black Hawks with experience are senior midfielder Olivia Schram, junior midfielder Macy Mathias, sophomore midfielder Eva Blatz and sophomore defender Marena Chernicky.
Freshman Artemis Convoy and sophomore Lauren Heh should play key roles, adding to the Black Hawks’ depth.
Junior Meghan Erfort adds support in the midfield while freshman Logan Burke is a plus on defense.
“Our team’s goal is to make the playoffs this year and go as far as we possibly can,” DalBon said.
“Every game is a battle.”
Three of BP’s 2020 graduates are continuing their playing careers in college. Sophia Galietta is competing at Westminster. Tianna Torles plays for Saint Vincent. Harley Vincler gained a roster spot at Carlow.