by Tom Utescher
Although the Germantown Academy girls won the Pennsylvania Independent Schools soccer championship last fall, the returning members of that 2015 Patriot squad still feel they need to take care of come unfinished business.
In the PAIS finals they had defeated Episcopal Academy, 1-0, but the Patriots had actually been the runner-up team within their own Inter-Ac League. With a pair of 3-2 victories over Germantown in the double round of league games, the EA Churchwomen had claimed the Inter-Ac crown with a record of 10-1-1, while GA wound up at 9-2-1.
As at the start of last season, Episcopal is working under a new head coach, while GA is following the familiar direction of faculty member Chris Nelson, now in his sixth season. Back for a third go-round as assistant coaches are Kelli Kaput and Katie Martin (GA ’08), and a new addition to the staff is 2010 GA graduate Kacie Kergides, a former Inter-Ac MVP who went on to start at Princeton University.
Just three days after beginning their 2016 pre-season practices, the Patriots took a jaunt down to the Washington D.C. area and handily outscored both Sidwell Friends and St. Stephens and St. Agnes School in scrimmages. After a few more trial runs back in Philly, GA began the Labor Day weekend with a 4-0 victory over visiting Little Flower Catholic High School on Friday.
The Patriots’ graduation losses from their 2015 line-up consisted of tri-captains Sophie Axenroth, Emmy Dolaway, and Kat Stambaugh, along with three other seniors.
Stambaugh had been a three-year starter in goal for GA, and this season her old position is being contested by a pair of freshmen, Elizabeth Altmomare and Meaghan Toscano.
Last Friday against Little Flower, 2016 senior captains Brynn Skelly and Emily Williams were among the starting field players, as was their classmate Lindsay Naber. The junior starters included Annie Peterson, who scored the lone goal in the 2015 PAIS championship game, and U.S. Under-16 squad midfielder Mackenzie Pluck, who made a verbal commitment to Duke University a year ago. They were joined by their classmates Bailey Gilmore and Rachel Villari, both varsity veterans.
Also on the field at the outset were a pair of players who already made an impact as freshmen last fall, Ally Clark and Sophie Axenroth’s sister, Riley. Freshman Grace Kaupas rounded out the first 11.
Junior Nicole Marion was the first player to sub into the game, and second off the bench was Maddie Burns, a freshman out of Norwood Fontbonne Academy. A little later, seniors Shannon Hill and Alexis Vaganos entered, then freshman Eleni Kytzidis went onto the field.
Senior Jamie Hermance is a returning varsity player for the Patriots, and the varsity roster also features senior Caroline Trejo and junior J.T. Sarisky. Hermance and Sarisky have both run track for GA.
In addition, Coach Kergides has a younger sister on the soccer squad, freshman Kiley Kergides.
Despite dominating the action in the first half last Friday, GA only led Little Flower 1-0 at the half, thanks to a marker by Pluck. The Patriots converted more of their shots in the second period, fashioning the final 4-0 tally with goals by Williams, Peterson, and Hill.